AMP Energy’s Golden Ticket: How to Amp Up Direct Response

Pongr teams up with AMP Energy (Double Click to See contest Rules.)

Pongr teams up with AMP Energy’s Golden Ticket Instant Win Game (Double Click to See Official Rules.)

To celebrate the launch of its new apple flavor, AMP Energy Gold’s Instant Win Game is giving away branded snowboards, parkas, snow pants, fleece vests and other skiing-themed merchandise to fans who photograph its limited edition cans.

Players snap a pic of the golden can with their mobile phone and email or text it to for a chance to win daily prizes. The Instant Win Game began on November 1 and continues through February 28.

Posing for a chance to win a free snowboard at the Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont.

Posing for a chance to win a free snowboard at the Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont.  (Double click to enlarge and read poster.)

The AMP Energy Gold promotion is using Pongr’s Photo Response Marketing platform, which uses computer vision to recognize brand logos and packaging. The image recognition technology is able to detect logos from different angles, distances and lighting conditions.

Golden Gallery -- A sampling of consumer photo entries. (Double click to see the live streaming gallery.)

Golden Gallery — A sampling of consumer photo entries. (Double click to see the live streaming gallery.)

Here’s how Photo Response Marketing works:

Totally Devoted: Q & A With America’s #1 Candy Wrapper Collector (and Historian)

Candy wrapper historian Jason Liebig (Source:

Candy wrapper historian Jason Liebig (Source:

Okay, so maybe we have candy on the brain lately.  Advertising dollars aside, big brands devote tremendous resources to the design of their packaging. Nothing is random. Fonts, colors, shapes, logos and layout are all tailored to make us psychologically want the product. Otherwise, what could possibly explain the retro packaging craze?

We recently had the honor of chatting with Jason Liebig, a passionate Manhattan candy enthusiast who has collected thousands of wrappers dating back to the early 1900s. He catalogs, photographs and stores his candy packaging like an archivist from the Smithsonian. Perhaps his collection will ultimately wind up there.

To Jason, preserving a meticulously opened King Size Kit Kat is culturally as important as a turn-of-the-century box of Cracker Jack. He’s documented more than 40 different packages of Milk Duds and sometimes candy companies even come to him for archival material.

Founder of, Jason warns of the dangers of trying to save the candy itself for future generations– it’s meant to be eaten now!  He shares much of his always-expanding wrapper collection on his Flickr photostream. You can follow Jason Liebig on Twitter @CollectingCandy.

Our Interview with Jason Liebig, Candy Wrapper Historian

Q: When I told my wife about your collection, her immediate reaction was, “So this guy collects TRASH?” and then she rolled her eyes. How common is that view of your hobby versus the percentage of people who appreciate what you’re archiving?

Jason:  I’m the first person to state that “I collect trash.” I think it’s a novel thing to document and preserve what other people throw away. Even the companies that produced these wrappers over the decades have tossed them out.  Many brands have very little corporate sense of history, and no archives to speak of — only a very few have any kind of packaging archives. So I consider this material a wonderful element of our shared pop culture and our shared consumer culture.

Most folks consider what I do to be fun and fascinating, especially folks with an artistic or design eye. Artists and designers are the biggest fans and supporters of my work. I recently received an e-mail from a designer who overhauled the website of Pearson’s Candy (Bit-O-Honey, Nut Goodie, Salted Nut Roll). He pointed to my work as inspirational for the look he created for them. That was pretty cool. A lot of pop artists consider my work an invaluable resource. Helping artist Paul Rousso develop his amazing 3D candy wrapper sculptures has been one of the highlights of my candy work thus far.

My archival work provides a nostalgic window to countless people, but it’s also an academic resource that has afforded me the chance to work with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink, among others. And I’ve provided archival resources for a few of the candy companies themselves, including Life Savers and Just Born (the Mike and Ike folks).

A Tale of Three Candy Wrappers: Computer Vision Replaces Chocolate Fingerprints


In 1979, the Clark and Holloway brands teamed up with D.C. Comics for this superhero promotion that drove fans to the supermarket candy aisle. (Double click to enlarge ad.)

Technology is always evolving and consumers are now far more sophisticated, but one thing will never change in the supermarket aisle. People LOVE free stuff.

This comic book ad from the late 1970s encapsulates the brand premium craze that’s been going on for decades and is still going strong. Customers save wrappers, boxtops or UPC codes for proof of purchase and mail them to a redemption center for prizes.  Part of the fun is the saving up for and anticipation of getting the reward.

These radio-controlled Batmobiles and Spider-Man cars were only available to fans who collected 12 Holloway or Clark candy wrappers. Holloway was the Chicago company that made Milk Duds famous in the 1920s. (Milk Duds is now owned by Hershey’s.)

This promotion kept driving super-motivated kids to their local convenience stores or supermarkets to get more candy bars. I would imagine that many of those wrapper-stuffed envelopes were smeared with melted chocolate.

Plenty of brands are still asking their customers to mail in proofs of purchase for premium rewards. However, today’s mobile-centric consumer demands instant gratification. Why SHOULD they wait 6-8 weeks if they don’t have to?

Based on the recent experience of two candy brands, image recognition technology is proving itself to be a shopper marketing game changer.

Premium Seats, Premium Wine: Kendall-Jackson and CBS Radio Team Up With Pongr For Holiday Concert Photo Sweepstakes

(Double click to enlarge)

WXRT radio listeners who snapped and sent pics of Kendall-Jackson wine earned a chance to win front row seats at Chicago’s Big Holiday Concert. (Double click to enlarge the bottleneck hanger.)

As one of the major sponsors of Chicago’s Big Holiday Concert on Dec. 15, the Kendall-Jackson Winery came up with a novel idea for how to give away some of the best seats. Instead of the usual in-store Sweepstakes format, where customers fill out their names and addresses, America’s top-selling brand of “super premium” wine first asked for their smiles.

The 93XRT (CBS Radio) folk rock concert stars The Head and the Heart, Dawes, and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Over the past month, wine shoppers who brought home Kendall-Jackson home for the holidays were invited to pull out their mobile phones and snap and share photos including the K-J label.

Sweepstakes entrants emailed or texted those pics to and instantly received a direct response message confirming their entry or encouraging them to try again. Pongr image recognition technology is used to accurately detect product logos and packaging.


93XRT’s annual Big Holiday Concert is a popular ticket. Winners of the Kendall-Jackson Sweepstakes will be randomly drawn this week.

The 93XRT Kendall-Jackson Big Holiday Sweepstakes (rules here) was promoted with in-store bottleneck hangers and 30-second radio spots (listen here).

Dressing Up Concrete: Ralph Lauren Uses Pongr Image Recognition for its “Art Wall” Photo Contest

denim and supply pongr contest instructions-600Usually, it’s the attractive fashion models who get stared at on the walls of a Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren store. In a clever twist this fall, it’s the building itself that’s getting the runway treatment.

For its whimsical Art Wall Project, the clothing store’s New York City location has been transformed into a colorful canvas — the ultimate expression of Out of Home (OOH) advertising. Over the next few months, Denim & Supply will partner with innovative artists to put their creative stamp on the facade and showcase their work inside the store. In addition, a limited edition designer t-shirt inspired by the artist will be sold to benefit the nearby School of Visual Arts.

The first installation is by Hellbent, a Brooklyn spraypaint artist known for his dramatic use of color and his abstract graphics. In this Women’s Wear Daily story, you can see what the building looked like before its makeover.

Kicking off the celebration, Pongr is teaming up with Denim & Supply for The Art Wall Project Sweepstakes. Through November 28, customers who snap a photo of the outside of the store and send it to will have a chance to win gift cards and various Art Wall-inspired t-shirts. (See Official Rules.)

Image Recognition Technology

Take a glance at some of the recent customer snapshots entered in the contest below. When a shopper emails or texts their mobile photo, Pongr computer vision “looks” inside and analyzes its components to determine if it is the correct building. Usually used to detect logos, advertising and product packaging, our image recognition technology can identify the building from close-up or far away, as long as the picture contains a representative sample of the pattern.

The system will also recognize the building from a variety of angles:

Photo Marketing: Do Selfies Have Business Value For Brands?

How many brands can you squeeze into a selfie?

How many brands can you squeeze into a selfie?

How often do you point your camera phone at yourself?

The New York Times recently surveyed how the camera phone self-portrait, a.k.a. “selfies,” have become fully integrated into our daily lives and entertainment.  Consider:

* Oxford Dictionaries Online just formally anointed “selfie” as a legitimate word.
* An ad for the new Grand Theft Auto V video game shows a woman in a bikini taking a selfie with her iPhone.
* At a recent concert, Beyonce thrilled a fan by sticking her face in the fan’s selfie.
* Pope Francis recently received rave reviews on Twitter for his good-humored participation in a Vatican selfie. (On a roll, the Pope also just wore a clown nose for a newlywed couple’s photo-op!)

Pope Francis poses for tourist selfies, giving the Vatican a more approachable image.

Pope Francis poses for tourist selfies, giving the Vatican a more approachable image. (Source: The Telegraph)

Is the selfie phenomenon a monument to our collective vanity?  Perhaps it is. But in an interview with the Times, social media analyst Clive Thompson had a different spin:

Mobile Shopper Smackdown: Angry Birds vs. SpongeBob

IMG_0596As parents, we witness this phenomenon ALL the time. Our kids don’t want to brush their teeth, but hey, is that an Angry Birds toothbrush?  Maybe cavity prevention is worthwhile after all. Our kids might be bath-resistant, but hey, is that SpongeBob shampoo? Maybe daily hygiene has its fringe benefits.

In a recent issue of Grocery Headquarters magazine, Pongr CEO Jamie Thompson shared his vision of how retailers could take advantage of shoppers’ love for mobile photos and use image recognition technology to power their in-store promotions.

In the spirit of that story, I launched a personal scavenger hunt at my local Target superstore. My personal quest: Find and photograph as many Angry Birds and SpongeBob items as possible — and determine which cartoon characters “rule” the aisles. (Check out my Pongr galleries of SpongeBob products and Angry Birds products.)

Bear in mind that Target is not currently involved in a Pongr-powered promotion, though many brands on their shelves have been running campaigns using our computer vision technology. (Earlier this year, UNREAL candy ran a Pongr customer photo campaign to celebrate being displayed on Target endcaps).

This exercise shows the possibilities for retailers and brands to partner on engaging Photo Response Marketing promotions that drive traffic to the stores and tie directly to a brand’s CRM database.

New Shopper Technology Webinar: How to Launch In-Store Promotions on (Relatively) Short Notice

Breast Cancer Swiffer POP Display

Swiffer’s POP display for its “Cleaning for a Reason” philanthropic campaign.

Check out this recent Point of Purchase (POP) display at Walmart for Swiffer’s Breast Cancer Awareness efforts. It’s a dramatic presentation that stops you in the aisles. The woman on the side panel is a Walmart assistant manager whose life was saved by a mammogram. The Swiffer mop itself has a pink handle and makes a pink ribbon pattern on the floor.

Many months of planning goes into a campaign like this, let alone the approval process for the graphics and the logistics of getting floor space in the stores.

When brands and agencies want to launch in-store promotions on a much tighter timetable, there are more immediate ways to engage shoppers in the aisles.

At 2 p.m. on Nov. 5, we invite you to our shopper technology webinar, “Solutions For On-Pack Promotional Challenges at Retail,” co-sponsored by Hip Digital Media and the Brand Activation Association. Join the conversation and register now: (If you are not a BAA member, enter our code “freewebinar2013″).

Pongr CEO Jamie Thompson will share how any brand logo or packaging can become a direct response opportunity without any special printing or packaging modifications. Using computer vision, Pongr’s mobile Photo Response Marketing campaigns involve three easy steps:

Creative CPGs: How Brands Celebrate Halloween

halloween captain crunch milk turns greenGreen milk? Heck, yeah, it’s Halloween!

Seeing special edition packaging in the supermarkets this time of year is like watching the brands themselves dress up in costumes.

Before we give our salute to spooky Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs), just a quick reminder that Pongr is teaming up with the Brand Activation Association and Hip Digital Media to explore the latest shopper marketing technologies with you at our Nov. 5 webinar, “Solutions For On-Pack Promotional Challenges at Retail.”

Register now:  (If you are not a BAA member, enter our code “freewebinar2013″)

Now, let’s go trick or treating in the grocery aisles:

We recently took a look at the unprecedented reunion of all five Big G Monster Cereals, the General Mills monster mash of Yummy Mummy, Frute Brute, Franken Berry, Count Chocula and Boo Berry. But those classic characters are hardly alone.

As you can see above, Quaker’s Cap’n Crunch shaped their sweetened corn and oats into little ghosts. And Kellogg’s Rice Krispies mascots — Snap, Crackle and Pop — have traded their baker’s caps for witch hats and have turned their cereal bowl into a boiling cauldron.

Shopper Marketing: POP Displays We Love (Part 1)

M and M Iron Man 3 POP Display-Web(Spotted at Walmart – October 2013)

In-store Point-of-Purchase displays or POP displays have the perfect name. These large stop-you-in-the-aisle promotional stand-ups are meant to grab shoppers’ attention in one of the most sensory overloaded environments.

This M & M’s and Iron Man 3 display is a show stopper. It instantly makes you smile and wonder if that classic slogan “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands” is still valid with Iron Man’s “repulsor ray” palms, which are much more powerful than lasers.

The co-branded promotion is pushing the release of the DVD and Blu-Ray and offers a free digital comic book with any M & M’s purchase.

M and M Iron Man 3 Pop Display 2 WebWalmart customers can get a sneak peek at the free comic book by scanning the QR code (the bar code near Iron Man’s left thigh)  with their phone or by typing in a Walmart website.

Pongr’s image recognition and direct response technology is an alternative to using QR codes for shopper marketing. In this case, customers could simply take a picture of the POP display or candy, send it by email or text to a customized address and instantly receive a link to the movie bonus material.