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Anheuser-Busch runs text campaign for free gas

Anheuser-Busch, maker of the Budweiser and Bud Light beers, is tapping into mobile via a text-to-win sweepstakes.

The brewer is using agency Interactive Mediums' TextMe for Business mobile marketing platform to give consumers a chance to win free gas for a year. Consumers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are asked to text BUD to 839863 to enter the "Gas Up and Go" SMS sweepstakes.

"This text-messaging platform is a more efficient, automated way to hold a sweepstakes as opposed to traditional means," said Chris Watland, managing director of Interactive Mediums, Chicago.

"It boosts response rates and raises Anheuser-Busch's brand awareness by interacting with its customers, especially young adults 21 and over who drink Budweiser," he said. "It catches customers' attention and, ultimately, gets them to drink more beer."

When consumers text in they get a message back thanking them for entering the contest. There is also a link to the sweepstake's microsite at, which provides them with more information regarding the promotion.

The initial call-to-action can be found on in-store signage. This campaign will run July 1 through Aug. 31. The winner will be selected in a random drawing on Sept. 1.

Anheuser-Busch's text-to-win sweepstakes replaced its former paper sign-ups, in part because people would often steal tear-pad registration sheets.

The TextMe platform eliminates the need for paper and notifies the contest winners automatically via SMS when the contest is over.

The TextMe platform has also constructed campaigns for wireless carrier Sprint.

Sprint ran SMS contests in conjunction with the NFL's ProBowl, giving mobile customers the chance to win prizes such as a Steve Young football helmet.

The carrier has also run campaigns around professional tennis matches and other localized events.

"While TextMe for Business is a ... do-it-yourself marketing platform for smaller and medium-sized business, we design more advanced, individualized platforms for large companies such as Sprint and Anheuser-Busch," Mr. Watland said.

Other TextMe for Business clients include various retailers, bars and nightclubs, restaurants, large and small real-estate companies and music festivals.

In addition to text-to-win sweepstakes, companies have used the platform for SMS trivia contests, text-in voting for awards and building subscription lists.

For example, the 2008 Tampa Music Conference and Awards ran an SMS vote to select winners from a pool of nominees, using a big-screen call-to-action.

Similarly, bars and nightclubs often issue a call-to-action via large screens on premise, urging patrons to text in to join the venue's subscriber list and to receive flyers, alerts and promotions via SMS.

"It can be used by almost any industry, although nightclubs see an especially strong return on investment, since they're able to grow a subscriber list through texting and drive foot traffic," Mr. Watland said. "They see a measurable return, so it's a no-brainer for them. They see the value clearly.

"We released a private-label version for individuals who want to start their own mobile marketing business," he said. "It's a turnkey solution to let advertisers provide or sell these services to their own customers with their own logo for a licensing fee."