ASK THE CEO – Pongr For Shopper Marketing & Brand Awareness

Pongr Co-Founder and CEO Jamie Thompson believes that shopper marketing is one of the least appreciated aspects of retail advertising.

(“Ask The CEO” is a series of Q & A interviews with Pongr Co-Founder and CEO Jamie Thompson exploring how brands can best monetize consumer photos and turn any brand advertising or packaging into a direct response promotional campaign.)

Q: Pongr recently partnered with UNREAL Candy on a photo contest to celebrate its national distribution in Target Stores. What was the strategy?

JT: UNREAL is an all-natural candy company that aims to “Unjunk the World” by providing healthier candy options without sacrificing taste. To promote carrying the new line of products, Target put UNREAL end cap displays in each of its stores. In an effort to drive brand awareness and engagement with their end caps, UNREAL put together a photo campaign using Pongr as their platform to encourage consumers to share pictures while they are in the store.

Q: How can a photo contest help a new start-up brand?

JT: This is the classic challenge of a new product introduction. How do brands create co-branded promotions that bring innovation to their retail partner, but also drive specific interaction with their product and encourage their consumers to share that experience across their social networks?

With a Pongr-powered campaign, brands can connect consumer photos directly to their CRM database. Shopper marketing is one of the most important facets of brand advertising – and also one of the least appreciated. Brands are always vying for the best placement on shelves, the best placement in retail environments. And in a world where social matters, in a world where mobile matters, in a world where media is getting more integrated then ever before, shopper marketing needs to get pulled into the 21st century.

UNREAL Candy’s Pongr-powered Sweepstakes deployed image recognition to identify whether customers photographed the UNREAL logo on any of its packaging and on in-store endcap displays to celebrate national distribution at Target Stores. In addition to the Grand Prize winner, 10 runners up won a year’s supply of UNREAL Candy!

Q: What was the call to action?

JT: As part of a New Year’s Resolution for healthier eating, UNREAL asked its fans to “Unjunk Your January,” by sharing pics of themselves, family and friends enjoying the product. Pongr provided them with the photo platform for fans to email or picture text them to in return for an automatic entry in their sweepstakes. The top prize was a $10,000 Target gift card, with ten second prize winners getting a year’s supply of UNREAL Candy.

Every photo entry received an instant direct response message encouraging participants to share their experiences across their social networks – including easy-click sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

Q: What do you think about UNREAL Candy’s execution of their photo marketing campaign?

JT: What impressed me about the UNREAL team and their agency was their very smart integration of shopper marketing with digital and traditional activation. So this program tightly integrated their spend on traditional media and their efforts and spend on digital, with shopper marketing. All with the end result of trying to drive sales across their retail partner’s stores.

UNREAL End caps at Target Stores — When customers get close enough to photograph a product, they are more likely to try the product.

Q: What do you think of UNREAL’s outreach strategy?

JT: UNREAL has been really successful with their partnerships with mommy bloggers, who happen to be one of the most energized and influential groups of brand ambassadors you could ever ask for. When these bloggers get organically excited, there’s no one better to spread the message. I think it’s a brilliant way of harnessing the energy of authentic brand ambassadors and combining it with shopper marketing, traditional media, and digital media. It’s all part of the future for every brand, tighter integration across all of these channels.

Shopper marketing is what makes the difference between whether a consumer buys your product or not. And if you can integrate your shopper marketing activity with social, you can amplify your reach, you can amplify your dollars spent — in a way that actually produces sales results. We’re excited to be a part of the shopper marketing conversations now, and we’re very excited to be building a part of that integration for the future of brands.

Q: Okay, so that describes how Pongr’s Photo Response Marketing helps emerging brands. What about mass scale campaigns for established national and global brands?

JT: Pongr’s image recognition and direct response tools are built to automate your campaigns at any scale. Stay tuned to this space for more details on our collaboration with agencies on shopper marketing campaigns for Nestle’s Skinny Cow, Circle K convenience stores, and Pepsi/Major League Baseball.

(Is there a topic you’d like to see Pongr’s Jamie Thompson tackle in a future Q & A? Please send your questions and suggestions to

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