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Scotts extends NCAA excitement into Lowe's stores via mobile

Lawn care brand Scotts? new campaign for the National Collegiate Athletic Association?s March Madness highlights the growing role that brands are placing on in-store promotions to build long-term mobile engagement.

The ?Choose Your #1 Seed Challenge? campaign includes two phases and is part of a partnership with Lowe?s to build up excitement around its products during March Madness. Scotts is working with HelloWorld on the campaign.

?The whole concept is there are tons of NCAA brackets and everybody fills them out,? said Jen Gray, vice president of marketing and creative services at HelloWorld, Pleasant Ridge, MI.

?They wanted to capitalize on this partnership and create some fun not only in-aisle at Lowe?s around the Scotts products, but online as well,? she said. ?Really the concept was to extend the bracket excitement as well earlier into the season.?

Growing mobile
The first phase of Scotts' campaign ran from Feb. 17 to March 15 and included a daily program where consumers could fill out a form online or in a Lowe?s store to pick their top four teams in the tournament.

In addition to entering the time-specific promotion, the campaign?s microsite lets consumers opt in to Lowe?s and Scotts? email newsletters.

The ballot was then stored and included an instant win game. Then as soon as the tournament?s final four seeds were announced, the ballots with the correct teams were put into a pool and a winner received a trip to the Final Four championship game in Texas.

The second portion of the campaign launched on March 17 and runs through March 30. During this phase of the campaign, consumers narrow down their top four picks to one winner.

Another grand prize winner will be chosen during the second half of the campaign and consumers can also win prizes such as gift cards.

The campaign is being promoted at the point-of-sale and in aisles and includes a mobile microsite that plays up social so that consumers can create their brackets and share them with friends.

The Scotts campaign also includes Facebook promotion and online.

Ramping up in-store
Scotts is the latest example of how mobile is changing the way that brands run in-store campaigns.

Since showrooming is unlikely to dwindle down, retailers are making a bigger push to work with brands on integrated mobile programs to up the in-store experience.

For example, Target is rolling out a half dozen mobile games and promotions this year with brands. The first one with Purina launched in February and includes a mobile Web, QR code and SMS campaign (see story). 

Additionally, Walmart recently acquired a digital recipe start-up called Yumprint, which is likely to help the retailer build up more comprehensive digital programs for CPG brands (see story).

?When they?re walking down the aisle at Lowe?s and they see this fun seed challenge that they can participate in, they can do it right there,? Ms. Gray said.

?Also, because this is a daily instant win and people are glued to their televisions or computer screens watching the games, they can fill out those brackets once a day and change their picks,? she said. ?Everybody?s on their phone and talking about scores and what?s happening, so that?s why it?s really important that the mobile component is there.?

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