Jerky Taunts Fuel Beef Jerky Mobile Push

Beef jerky isn’t usually associated with cutting-edge technology, but one marketer in the category is claiming success with a mobile campaign.  

Oberto Sausage Company has picked up 259,454 sweepstakes entries and a surging number of opt-ins during a mobile-and-micro-site campaign for its beef jerky product line that relied on good-natured taunts among male friends.  The effort was the first foray into mobile for the Kent, Wash., brand, which is midway through the second part of a three-pronged run that will end this fall.

The first leg of the campaign used the call-to-action, “Text-Taunt-Win,” and ran Jan. 26 through March 15. It appeared on in-store displays, product packaging and at the micro-site Ultimatealphazone.com.  

Ryan Post, senior brand manager at Oberto, said that effort produced 132,315 sweepstakes entries and a reasonably healthy number of mobile opt-ins for an initial attempt. The stint offered consumers the chance to be among five sweepstakes winners, with the prizes consisting of a Wii console, a Blue-Ray player, a Home Depot Card, an iPod Touch and an air hockey table.

“Our core consumer, the Gen-X male, is very much a trendsetter,” said Post, senior brand manager at Oberto. “[He]buys beef jerky at convenience stores and eats it in his car at three o’clock in the afternoon. He’s busy. He’s on his iPhone or Blackberry. This whole mobile campaign, in terms of getting attached to the handset, was just a natural fit for us. What we want the brand to do is fit into his lifestyle.”

The second leg employed the call-to-action, “Get Into the Ultimate Alpha Zone,” and has been slated to run from March 16 through June 15. Adding to the microsite, Post and his team implemented downloadable ringtones and wallpapers for this part of the run.

For the sweepstakes, the second leg has been offering more potential winners. Five people will be getting an “Ultimate Alpha Zone” custom leather chair and two cases of Oberto Beef Jerky. Other winners will receive either $300 or a $100 gift-card from retailers like Fathead.com.

Nevertheless, so far the second push hass brought in a slightly lower number of entrants compared to the first effort—127,139— but has seen an 88.2 percent uptick for mobile-messaging opt-ins, Post said. Ipsh, an agency based in San Francisco, Calif., that is part of the Marketing Arm, provided both a mobile marketing service and interactive voice response (IVR) system for the effort.

“In terms of mobile, we got it out there in the first run,” said Janelle Triana, account supervisor at Ipsh. “And now I think that the consumers are used to seeing it because we’ve definitely noticed a spike for mobile in the second promotion.”

For the end user, the campaign has been working like this: Whether consumers come across the promotion at a store display, on packaging copy or at the micro-site, they’ve been encouraged to text “Alpha to 433339” to enter the sweepstakes. The Ipsh system then immediately answers with a reply and allows them to text back “Y” to confirm their entrant status and to opt-in for further text promotions.   

Within moments, the entrants get a text reply that thanks them for participating and asks them to send a ‘taunt’ to their friends by replying  to the text with the copy “TAUNT”.  This initiates a message from the IVR system that lets users customize a ‘taunt' call to a friend. Example: “All the guys really liked the shirt you were wearing last night. Question for you. Does it come in men’s?”

Has all this sold more jerky? Post declined giving out specific numbers, though he said that that his company has been buoyed by the performance so far and will continue using the medium.

“It’s delivered all of the objectives that we want,” Post said. “It’s actually exceeded the number of engagements that we were looking to get. We’ve been getting fabulous [word-of-mouth] via bloggers and people talking about it on the social network sites. We are absolutely happy with it.”

Next up in the fall, his team will enter into the final phase of the initiative. Oberto plans to add TV spots and a UGC-styled video contest to the mix.

“We want to make the micro-site a [long-term feature] that we continually add promotions to,” Post said. “What’s really encouraging about it is that the success it has had hasn’t been backed by mass media. We have seeded the campaign in a grass-roots fashion. But still, the consumers have gotten it, they have latched onto this whole idea. It goes to show how the [mobile concept] really fits and really works with consumers’ lifestyles.”