Postmates Banks on Pop Culture and Plinko to Engage Consumers

Delivery app finds success with email and social campaigns for Chipotle and Blackpink

blackpink for postmates
The brand gave away ice cream-themed merch to celebrate Blackpink's new album. Postmates
Headshot of Ian Zelaya

The pandemic has sparked significant growth for food delivery apps and, in turn, has forced brands to get creative with their digital marketing to ensure consumers continue hitting the Order button on their phones.

Postmates found success with its recent email and social marketing efforts by leveraging inbox gamification to promote Chipotle deals and staying on the pulse of what’s happening in pop culture, specifically around K-pop group Blackpink’s new album.

Creative director Kevin Byrd said that while the brand operates as a tech company, Postmates’ performance marketing philosophy is to think like a “lifestyle brand” and “meet customers where they are at any given moment.” In addition to taking note of what has resonated well with consumers in the past, the brand also constantly tries to experiment with new tactics.

“Creatively, we’re interested in finding ways we can constantly disrupt what’s happening in each of our different channels,” he said. “Unless you’re doing that, you won’t really uncover new ways of encouraging engagement.”

Rather than sending customers a standard email promoting Chipotle deals, Postmates in September chose to “eventize” the offers with an ‘80s throwback: Plinko.

The brand emailed a Chipotle-branded Plinko board to customers, who were encouraged to play by dropping a “chip” on their screen to win codes for offers like free guacamole, a free burrito or $100 to order Chipotle on Postmates.

Consumers who played the digital game could share their winnings on social media, which Postmates views as a measure of success.

“The fact that the game resonated was a good moment to know we’re reaching people. This was about making something compelling and fun for our customers,” Byrd said. “One of the goals going into any [campaign] is to get people talking. We find those indicators mostly on social.”

While Postmates has found new success with gamification, the brand continues to leverage celebrity partnerships for effective fan engagement. Most recently, the brand did this by offering giveaways and deals tied to one of the most popular K-pop groups ever: Blackpink.

Timed to the release of the girl group’s new record, The Album, in early October, Postmates emailed consumers deals to local ice cream spots as a nod to “Ice Cream,” Blackpink’s new single featuring Selena Gomez.

The campaign also included an in-app sweepstakes offering exclusive Blackpink merch, resulting in Postmates’ most popular tweet ever. The brand’s tweet about the campaign to the group’s fandom (known as Blinks), garnered nearly 12,000 retweets and more than 77,000 likes.

“The specific ask for this campaign was: How do we intersect pop culture and food culture in a way that resonates with our consumers?” Byrd said. “We try to be ingrained in pop culture and with Blackpink being wildly popular, this was a good match.”

Byrd said Postmates will continue investing in celebrity partnerships, noting that some of the brand’s best performing emails have involved celebrity-led messaging, specifically around their go-to delivery orders. He also said Postmates will continue to emphasize local, Black-owned businesses in its marketing, which the brand began highlighting in June in response to nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

Heading into Q4 of 2020, Byrd said the brand will examine how the pandemic has impacted ordering trends since March, and how best to address those trends through email and social.

“The landscape is constantly changing, not just in business but also at a human and cultural level,” Byrd said. “Being acutely aware of that helps provide perspective so we can hone in our marketing, whether that be email or social campaigns.” Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.