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Applebee's puts mobile messaging twist on classic sweepstake formula

Applebee?s is working with Pepsi and the hosts of ESPN?s ?Mike & Mike? for a new social campaign that leverages messaging to let customers win exclusive prizes.

Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, the host of a popular sports talk show on ESPN, are teaming up with Applebee?s and Pepsi to offer customers a chance to come work with them on the show to promote the release of Applebee?s new All-In burger meal. The contest makes use of messaging in addition to social media, providing an interesting wrinkle in the standard sweepstakes format.

"A great burger is a bar and grill classic. As America's neighborhood grill and bar, Applebee's is excited to team up with Pepsi and Mike and Mike to bring you the All-in Burger Debate," said Mindee Plugues, vice president of marketing at Applebee's. "We invite guests to come in and pick their favorite All-in Burger and enter our contests for a chance to win free burger lunch combos and other big prizes."

Mike & Mike
With the Super Bowl now safely behind us, do not expect sports fans love for consuming sports media to slow down. 

ESPN?s Mike & Mike, a sports talk show featuring Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Golic, will continue to provide sports fans with the hours of debate, highlights and analysis that they crave.

Some sports commentators are so beloved fans adore them on the same level as the actual athletes that they talk about.

Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg host ESPN's Mike & Mike

That is why Applebee?s is basing its next campaign not around meeting an athlete, but around meeting the two Mikes from the show.

To promote its new All-In Burger Meal, Applebee?s is working with Pepsi to offer fans a chance to be a producer for a day on the Mike & Mike show. In addition to this grand prize, there will be numerous smaller prizes including free meals or tickets to sports games.

The contest includes more than just the traditional hashtag or photo entries. While those are included in the form of encouraging consumers to tweet #AllInToWinSweepstakes or posting a photo on Instagram, Applebee?s is also asking consumers to text in a special code found only in-store at an Applebee?s.

"There are few things that pair better than a refreshing Pepsi and a delicious burger, so we couldn't be happier to team up with Applebee's to offer consumers the All-in Burger Meal Deal," said Eric Whitehouse, senior director at PepsiCo Foodservice. "Layering on the All-in Burger Debate and text-to-win promotion enables us to truly engage with sports fans and give them a chance to connect with our friends and theirs ? Golic and Greeny."

Messaging twist
This strategy does more than just get consumers in the door to get the code ? although that certainly is an intended side-effect ? but it also encourages consumers to associate the mobile and physical brand experience that Applebee?s is pushing.

In the modern mobile climate, brands have to push a unified experience to customers and not have their digital and physical presences be separated.

The campaign promotes Applebee's new All-In burger meal

Applebee?s is teaching customers that the phone is not something that needs to be put away when you are with the brand in-person, and in fact, it can be a way to better engage with the brand fully thanks to integrated tie-ins across channels. 

The move is also a potential lead-in to more use of messaging in the future.

Messaging is a hot topic at the moment, from iMessage stickers such as the ones provided by Dunkin? Donuts (see story) to full-service ordering bots on Facebook Messenger such as the one recently released by Domino?s (see story).

Applebee?s could be preparing itself for further messaging integrations in the future.

"People can get very passionate about sports and the way they like their burgers, so we're looking forward to hosting the 'All-in Burger Debate' grand prize winner in Bristol and seeing some of that passion come to bear when they become our producer for the day," Mr. Greenberg said.