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BP?s ampm sponsors poker apps for iPhone, MySpace

BP's convenience store chain ampm is running an integrated social media application sponsorship program on Texas Hold 'Em Poker, a social game for iPhone and MySpace.

The campaign was planned and executed by appssavvy, a direct sales team for the social media space, and ad agency Mindshare. It features a complete app takeover, including ampm-branded poker table, chips and floor, and a display campaign to win $500 gift cards for gas or a Nintendo DS.

"We're working with ampm and its agency Mindshare, exploring the best ways to tap into social media for branding," said Chris Cunningham, founder/CEO of appssavvy, New York, NY. "Ampm was extremely excited about the idea of buying into mobile applications, which are really communities gathering around content.

"It's all about reaching people in right place and at the time to generate brand affinity for ampm while they're doing something they enjoy doing," he said. "Texas Hold ?Em gives ampm the ability to tie in a mobile element and leverage multiple platforms with the same branding and full integration into game play, which is critical.

"I'm sure they spend other digital dollars with other platforms, but their biggest play for this campaign has been leveraging Texas Hold ?Em via iPhone and MySpace."

BP supplies more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline every year to U.S. consumers through 13,000 retail outlets. The ampm brand was founded in 1978 in Southern California by ARCO. The brand became part of BP when BP acquired ARCO in 2000.

Poker players entering the ampm-sponsored Texas Hold'em tournaments have the opportunity to enter a weekly contest to win a $500 gift card or Nintendo DS.

The ampm ad campaign spans five Texas Hold'em Poker tournaments beginning this week and ending in late September.

The ampm sponsorship play is running across both MySpace and the iPhone app.

In conjunction with the campaign, consumers can win gift cards for up to $500 worth of free gas and have the opportunity to win Nintendo DS products.

The call-to-action is issued not through a traditional interactive advertising banner, but via the poker game itself.

The app header is branded with the ampm logo, and there is a button featured within the game with the call-to-action, which is fully integrated within the gaming experience.

The target demographic is consumers ages 18-34, heavily skewed toward males.

The ampm campaign received 125 entries within the first 12-to-18 hours after it went live.

"Targeting through social media apps means that consumers' demographic information can be pulled from their profile data, and someone having installed the app means that they want it," Mr. Cunningham said.

"This is multiplatform brand integration, and the sweepstakes is a component, but more importantly this is running on the iPhone and MySpace at the exact same time," he said.

The convenience store chain also offers free ringtones and is tapping SMS, urging consumers to text keyword AMPM to short code 70215 to receive a mobile coupon.

Mindshare is a global media and marketing services network with billings in excess of $23 billion, according to RECMA. It is part of GroupM, which oversees the media investment management for WPP, a communications services group.

Appssavvy, backed by TRUE Ventures, Scott Kurnit, founder of and The New York Times Co., connects hundreds of social media applications with brands and agencies.

Appssavvy claims that Texas Hold'em Poker is the most-played poker game on MySpace, not to mention Facebook, and is increasingly played on the iPhone.

"Social media is a white-hot sector, and the biggest question mark for marketers is ?What do I do, how can I leverage that?'" Mr. Cunningham said. "Static banner ads don't perform well, so brands need to understand how to buy into social media the right way -- staying contextually relevant and providing value for users.

"Mindshare were the ones that bought into the social media apps, which is not always the first vertical that you buy," he said. "They presented the idea of buying into apps and were responsible for selling that to their client, and helped with the execution, so they played a huge role."