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General Mills aims to bulk up UPC redemptions through mobile advertising

General Mills

General Mills' ad

General Mills is enlisting mobile advertising to get the word out about its involvement for an effort that supports donations to Feeding America through on-pack codes.

The consumer-packaged-goods brand is running audio and expandable ads within Pandora’s iPhone application to get the word out about Outnumber Hunger, which is a joint effort between General Mills, Feeding America and Big Machine Label Group. The initiative is geared towards spreading the word about hunger issues within the United States.

"Through our partner Pandora, we are able to reach an audience that was engaged with Outnumber Hunger artists like Florida Georgia Line, The Band Perry and Rascal Flatts," said Cheryl Welch, integrated communications director at General Mills, Minneapolis, MN.

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"Once we reached this audience, we delivered a message from an artist," she said. "Through targeting, our goal was to increase Outnumber Hunger program participation and move us one step close to resolving the issue of hunger."

Mobile-first promotion
Creative on the ads reads, “Enter codes at Outnumberhunger.com to help feed local families.” An image of several General Mills products is also splashed across the ad.

The ads drive consumers to a microsite that is packed with calls-to-action encouraging consumers to type in the codes found on products. Participating brands include Yoplait, Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury.

The microsite

Each UPC code correlates to five meal donations based on the ZIP code that consumers type in.

General Mills will donate about 55 cents to Feeding America for entering a code up to $1.2 million.

Big buttons along the bottom of the site link consumers to the campaign’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts.

Outnumber Hunger is doling out General Mills coupons on Facebook and Twitter in addition to content. The effort has more than 6,000 followers on Twitter and about 130 “Likes” on Facebook. 

The microsite

The microsite also explains the Outnumber Hunger campaign in more detail and General Mills’ involvement.

This is the third year of the Outnumber Hunger program, which claims to have delivered more than 25 million meals to Americans. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hunger affects 49 million Americans.

Country music group Florida Georgia Line is this year’s face of the campaign and is featured on more than 90 products.

Outnumber Hunger runs through Jan. 31, 2015.

Quick action
General Mills has long relied on mobile marketing to support larger multichannel programs.

For example, Wheaties leveraged augmented reality last year to bring cereal boxes to life (see story). 

In 2012, Progresso used a combination of QR codes and mobile Web to link consumers to content such as recipes (see story). 

Mobile advertising is increasingly becoming a bigger part of a standard marketing mix, but it is unclear how many consumers will participate in General Mills’ Outnumber Hunger campaign as a result of seeing the ad since they would need to be holding a product at the exact moment of clicking on the ad.

“The ad will likely have a low number of immediate submissions because consumers must be next to a General Mills cereal box when they come across the ad," said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, New York. "That doesn’t mean that the campaign won’t fulfill its goals, which may be to inform consumers of the program and, more importantly, to highlight General Mills' philanthropic initiative.

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with General Mills. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

"While General Mills is certainly interested in getting people to register cereal box UPCs, the main interest is to put General Mills at the forefront of consumers’ minds and to position the brand as one that gives back to the local community," she said. "To drive more UPC entries, the brand could have targeted the ad placements during the morning hours when consumers are more likely to have a breakfast cereal in front of them."

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Advertising, mobile, mobile marketing, General Mills, Shuli Lowy, Ping Mobile

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