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Purina grooms mobile for dog show bracket challenge

Purina Pro Plan is raising awareness for the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show by rolling out its first-ever mobile-optimized bracket contest, enabling consumers to predict the winning breeds for a chance to win $1 million.

As the pet food brand gears up to sponsor the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is taking place on February 15 and 16, it is aiming to stir up excitement among mobile users by encouraging them to partake in the bracket challenge. Consumers can visit a mobile-optimized microsite, input their personal details and choose one winner for each dog group, as well as the best in show recipient.

?It certainly seems that Purina and Westminster are looking to attract a younger audience to the show, as evidenced by last year's partnership with Snapchat to distribute content during the show,? said Ted Dhanik, CEO of engage:BDR. ?As brackets and fantasy sports become increasingly popular, especially among millennials, this is certainly a timely choice by Purina to attract a certain demographic.?

Brushing up mobile
Smartphone and desktop users can visit to participate in the challenge, which will remain open until the first day of the event. After inputting their first and last names, email addresses and passwords, users will be taken to the bracket page, which showcases the seven canine categories as well as the top prize: best in show.

Fans may then select whichever breed they predict will win the Hound, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Herding, Toy, Terrier and Working groups. Once they tap on the category, a drop-down menu with the name and picture for each breed will appear.

To discover more information about each breed, consumers can read the detailed pop-ups that will be displayed once they make their top choice. For example, if a user wants to pick the Pug as the winner for the Toy group, he or she may click on the Pug?s photo and read about its history before pressing the ?Add To My Bracket? button.

Consumers who choose a perfect bracket ? meaning that they correctly identify all seven group winners and the best in show breed ? will be eligible to receive the $1 million dollar prize. If several entrants accurately predict all winners, the $1 million will be evenly split among them.

?Whenever you gamify a promotion, you drive repetitive consumer engagement,? said Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile. ?This, by definition, becomes an omni-screen and thus a mobile experience.

?Bracketology, like its NCAA patriarch, drives needed brand viability with fans. Dog fans are as fanatical and will drive this same gaming loyalty.?

After they have submitted their entries, participants can tune in to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 15 on CNBC and February 16 on USA Network. They may then follow their brackets in real-time and cheer for their favorites.

Fans in need of some advice prior to making their selections can listen to expert opinions from ?bracketology? expert Joe Lunardi, with whom Purina has partnered. Mr. Lunardi will make his own bracket, which will be revealed in the days leading up to the show, and will offer advice on the top breeds to watch.

Barking up social
Consumers who enjoy engaging in second-screen experiences to augment their television viewing may follow @ProPlan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to receive live updates from the Westminster event.

Additionally, Purina will broadcast behind-the-scenes moments for canine enthusiasts. Users are encouraged to join in the conversation by posting via the #WKCDogShow hashtag.

This campaign will likely bring the number of viewers for the show even higher than previous years, thanks to the contest?s interactive element.

One way of bolstering additional awareness would be to add a direct social media component to the bracket microsite, allowing entrants to share their top picks across their networks.

?An interactive and social component would help with an element of virality, both in incentivizing users to participate so they can share, and in spreading awareness about the campaign through trusted influencers,? engage:BDR?s Mr. Dhanik said.