Trash to Treasure: Carolina Panthers Fan Almost Throws Her Game Day Away

Brandy McDaniel and boyfriend Chris, who frequently bond over Panthers football, will be headed to Bank of America Stadium this weekend courtesy of the Pepsi Snap It/Send It Sweepstakes.

Brandy McDaniel has a standing Sunday message for her mother and other non-football fans:  “Don’t bother me. Don’t mess with my TV. The Panthers are on!”

“My mom keeps asking me, ‘Why waste your time watching them when they’re just gonna give you another ‘L’?  But I have to support my team no matter what,” says the 29-year-old disabilities counselor from Chester, S.C. “I still might shake my head at them, but they are still my team.”

Thanks to Brandy’s football-agnostic mother, she, her boyfriend Chris and two yet-to-be-named friends will be at Bank of America Stadium this Sunday to watch the Panthers take on the Atlanta Falcons — in premium end zone seats close enough to see the players sweat. It’s because of her three-Pepsi’s-a-day mom that she even noticed the Carolina Panthers Snap It/Send It Sweepstakes on an empty 18-pack carton as she was emptying her trash.

Using her mobile phone, Brandy photographed the Pepsi and Panthers logos together and emailed the pic to Panthers@Pongr.com. She was automatically entered into a weekly drawing for premium tickets.

Brandy’s two-year-old son Daniel yells “Football! Football!” whenever he sees the NFL or Panthers logos.

“My mom drinks Pepsi like crazy. I took the picture in my kitchen and didn’t think about it again until I got the phone call days later when I was at work.  I actually let the call go to voicemail because I didn’t recognize the area code. When I heard that I won, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve won things like free t-shirts before, but nothing like this magnitude.”

Pepsi’s Carolina Panthers Snap It/Send It Sweepstakes is being powered by Pongr, a mobile photo marketing company that turns consumer packaging and in-store displays into immediate direct-response opportunities for shoppers.

“The contest was really easy to enter,” says Brandy. “It just took a few seconds. Now all I have to do is figure out who else I want to take to the game!”

These are tough times to be a Carolina Panthers fan as they currently sit at the bottom of the NFC South standings with a dismal 3-9 record. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. The Panthers played in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots in 2003 and were most recently in the playoffs in 2008.

Brandy’s 2-year-old son, Daniel — who will not be headed to Bank of America Stadium this weekend — has also caught Panthers fever. Perhaps it is by osmosis from his diaper bag:

The Panthers are Everywhere — Even When It’s Time to Go Potty.

“Daniel says ‘Football! Football!’ whenever he sees the Panthers logo. He also recognizes the NFL logo, too,” she adds. “He’s a true and true little boy.”

Every Sunday, Brandy wears her official Panthers jersey of wide receiver Steve Smith, whom she says “doesn’t have the big head that most pro athletes have.”

She tries to go to at least one game at Bank of America Stadium each season as a present to herself, shooting for the game closest to her October 27 birthday. This year, she couldn’t score tickets to her target game because the opposing Dallas Cowboys are too popular. She settled for going to a preseason game against the Dolphins instead.

“I’m thrilled to be going this Sunday,” she says. “I’m looking forward to enjoying some nachos, some beautiful weather and hopefully a victory. These seats will be the closet I’ve ever gotten to the field.”

Brandy’s fourth-row End Zone seats for Sunday’s Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium — courtesy of Pepsi, her mom’s favorite drink. (Double click to enlarge image).

(Are you a Carolina Panthers fan interested in a chance to win tickets to the December 23 game against the Oakland Raiders? Click here for more details) Also check out our profile of previous Pepsi/Panthers winner Tony Carter, a U.S. Army veteran who just attended his first NFL game ever).

Pongr Perfect Memories

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Harry Potter was one of the best series of novels in recent memory. Nonetheless, many were disappointed with how the novels were depicted on-screen. There were initial complaints of how the actors didn’t quite fit the characters of the book or how technology couldn’t catch up with the magical storyline; it wasn’t quite how people imagined it to be.

When we read a book, we put our imagination into work and create a world fit for the book and when movies don’t live up to our expectations, we are disappointed.

The same goes for pictures. They capture a moment we want to cherish. Photos take us back in time to that exact moment when the shutter went off or the time period we long to visit again. Sometimes, videos just don’t do justice for our memories.

Often times, brands carry the same effect as photos do: they capture memories of our past of when we enjoyed a certain candy bar, bag of chips or carbonated drink. You might have shared a Twix candy bar with your first love or popped M&Ms as you pulled an all-nighter while studying for finals.

Videos might capture the same, but can anyone create the perfect video to capture such memories? Not unless they’re highly skilled at video production. It won’t turn out as expected, just like the Harry Potter movies that didn’t quite live up to our imaginations. Pictures are simple: you focus on an object, press a button and capture the moment you want to cherish.

Pongr provides the perfect platform to share those memories of your favorite soft drink in high school, your favorite winter coat or even the ring your husband swept you away with. Invite your friends to Pongr and share memories of your favorite brands and products.

No Need To Be A Pro To Pongr

With the new iPhone 5 that has been presented to the world, it is evident that device video creation quality is getting really good, but memory and cell phone carrier bandwidth still has its limits. More photos could be saved and shared than a video that may buffer on some phones and take a long time to upload/download.

The technology for videos to be fully enjoyed by everyone is not quite there yet. There are still bandwidth issues in most major cities around the world, and it seems like sometimes it’s getting worse, not better. However, the technology for photos and mobile cameras has been skyrocketing by the day.

Why save up $600 for a DSLR when you could get a mobile photography application for free? Not everyone has the money to afford a professional camera and you don’t have to be a professional photographer to Pongr your photos. There are so many smartphone applications out there to apply high quality to your photos. Here are some iPhone apps to consider:

Left: Raw photo taken by iPhone 4
Right: Same photo edited by a photo editing app and finished with Instagram.

Instagram – The famous, the obvious and the free

Love vintage photography? Instagram has amazing effects that can make your photos draw more shares and likes. It is the closest smartphone application to creating the film camera texture. This app is available for both Androids and iPhones. You can use Instagram to take cool photos and then send them into Pongr.

Photo Editor by Aviary – Fast and easy photo editing

This app is also free on iPhone and has many features to enjoy. It easily enhances photo quality and it doesn’t crop half of your photo like Instagram does. Want to keep your photos, but still want the fancy effects? This might be the app for you.

Color Effects – Fun and artsy color isolation

Here’s another free iPhone app to add a little twist to your photos. You can isolate the color of the object of choice and make everything else black and white to give the photo a stronger focus. You don’t need to be brilliant at Photoshop, either.

Fast Camera – Got to catch that moment!

Spot a runner with a Gatorade bottle in hand, but they’re moving too fast for you? Another free iPhone app is here to the rescue. It captures second-by-second movements for the times you desire to capture a perfect photo of the exact moment.

DMD Panorama – Instant high quality panoramic pictures

This free app lets you capture a your favorite brands with a wonderful skyline in the background. Never thought it was possible with a camera phone? Well, think again.

We invite you to try these apps and explore more on your phone to Pongr your fancy and professional-like photos with your favorite brands!

How to turn your Nike sneakers into an airborne photo studio

Matt, one of the more adventurous Mountain Dew fans out there (and there's steep competition) is a skydiving coach who rotates gigs in Indiana, Ohio and Florida.

When we say that some Pongr fans go ABOVE and BEYOND the normal requirements to enter our brand-themed contests, we’re not kidding.

You may remember our daredevil player Matt’s skydiving snack photo session back in February for Pepsi and Frito-Lay’s “Ultimate Match-Up” game to win a VIP trip to Super Bowl XLVI. The Pongr-powered contest, which requires fans to snap photos of any Frito-Lay brand and any Pepsi brand together, continues this spring with a grand prize of a VIP trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The number of different brand combinations, which you can enjoy by land, sea or air, will blow you away. Click on the chart below for more details.

BRAND AWARENESS -- Some of the members of the Frito-Lay and Pepsi family may surprise you (Click the chart for a closer look.).

But back to Matt.  How DID this die-hard Mountain Dew fan get such great shots of himself cascading to Earth in what may be the world’s first Parachute Snack Bar? And with the wind knocking him around like a kite, how did he avoid blurry pics?  Check out the sharp action shot below, for example, of his attempt to create a Doritos rain shower (no worries, the chips that didn’t land in his mouth are biodegradable).

Cool Ranch Weather Report: 100 percent chance of nacho showers.

Matt relied on the GoPro HD Hero2 camera, a favorite for action-adventure sports enthusiasts to capture their scenes with a panoramic 170-degree angle.

GoPro caters to the same demographic as Mountain Dew: Snowboarders, surfers, motorcyclists, skiers, etc. Take a look:

But although the company sells numerous variations of helmet straps, curved and flat adhesive mounts, 3-way pivot arms, suction cups, hooks and buckles, they don’t make a mount for running shoes.  Just seems impractical as you’re likely to trip over it.

So that’s when Matt pulled a McGyver.

A close up look at how to mount a GoPro Hero 2 camera to your Nike Shox for Pongr'ing awesome photos (click the pic to enlarge).

Matt, who has recently jumped at small airports in Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa, took his regular handcam mount and zip-tied it to the toe of his Nike Shox sneaker. The mount is anchored through the laces and also strapped around the treads for extra stability. In case you’d like to duplicate it, he used five ties.

“The thing that surprised me the most is that my camera didn’t flap around while I was doing a freefall. I was kind of nervous that one of zip ties would snap, but they stayed put,” Matt says. “I was pretty confident that it was going to work, but you never really know until you try it.”

Matt took 1400 pictures of himself drinking Mountain Dew and eating Doritos (at a rate of two per second) under the floating canopy.  Perhaps a brand-themed coffee table book is in his future?

“I love my job. It doesn’t get any better than this,” says the skydiving instructor, who jumps between 100-250 times per year, usually without food. “You know what they say: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

So there really were THREE winners on Super Bowl Sunday

Jody C.'s family showed their Patriots pride, only to have their hopes dashed.

Jody's gung-ho Patriots-loving family hours before the heartbreaking finale.

Given how Super close the Super Bowl was, it could have easily been the New England Patriots prancing around with Mickey Mouse at Disney World this week or waving to fans in a gala parade. Our hats off to the New York Giants!

Based on Pongr’s strict neutrality in the eternal “Who’s Greater: Tom Brady or Eli Manning?” debate, I’m thrilled to report that the two winners of the Pongr Super Bowl Photo Contest came from both sides.

First-time Pongr player Jody C., of Massachusetts, received the most likes for her photo of her family posing in the kitchen before the game. Her beloved Pats may have lost, but she wins a $100 American Express Gift Card.

Jody’s family joined four other families in the neighborhood for the festivities, bringing her famous homemade “Barby Bars,” a sweet concoction of chocolate chip cookies with marshmallows and mints melted on top. The recipe is named after her mother.

Pongr Super Bowl Photo Contest Winner Jody C.

Pongr Super Bowl Photo Contest Winner Jody C.

“I like the idea of winning a prize just for taking photos,” she says. “When I explained how it worked to my family, my daughter immediately wanted to take pics of the Sabra hummus on the table!”

Fittingly, Jody and her husband Mike were engaged on Super Bowl Sunday 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, in a pro-Giants enclave in Idaho, the Pongr gods were smiling on player Sipp S., whose randomly-selected  snapshot of his TV and favorite drink earned him the second $100 American Express Gift Card.

To celebrate his wife’s recent graduation from nursing school, Sipp rented a hotel suite for the Big Game.

“We had plenty of snacks, and of course, a ‘frothalicious’ in hand,” he says. “A ‘frothalicious’ is whatever beverage that hits the spot at the exact moment you are craving it. For some, it’s coffee; for others it is a Dew, Pepsi or a Coke. For me, it was a Stewart’s Root Beer at the time! Just love the bite and it’s delicious.”

Pongr Mobile Games Winner Sipp S.

Pongr'ing the Super Bowl paid handsomely for Sipp!

Every Super Bowl, Sipp and his mother make a symbolic $1 bet for “bragging rights.”

“Mom’s a huge Patriots fan and so this was going to be her revenge game because I had the Giants back in 2007 when that game also came down to the end,” he explains. “Plus, she had won the last three years, including rollin’ with my sister’s Packers last year. She was on a roll!  But this year, no deal, Howie!”

“We stay in touch sending IMs, texts and pics because she lives more than 500 miles away,” he adds. “Love that technology can keep us together even though we’re not actually in the same house anymore.”

Sipp, an avid Pongr player who has earned the Founder Award in 36 brands (including Acura, AXE and Domino’s Pizza), plans to spend his gift card on some “pampering” for his wife or perhaps put it toward a Coach purse.  For her, as well.

Back to our honored Patriots fan… Jody says she is either going to go crazy at Home Depot or take the family out for an expensive dinner.

ENJOY!

Super Bowl Snack of the Century

Super Bowl stadium made out of deli meat

A Super Bowl Stadium That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into!

So we hope you all had fantastic Super Bowl parties—what a nailbiter! Our hearty congratulations to New York Giants fans and our sincere condolences to New England Patriots fans.

And for all you fans of those other NFL teams, just remember that training camp for the 2012 season really isn’t that far away.

In all the excitement surrounding our “Ultimate Match-Up” Super Bowl promotion with Pepsi and Frito-Lay, and last night’s Super Bowl Photo Contest, we’d be remiss if we didn’t credit the anonymous deli meat architect who created this replica of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis!

Thanks to Pongr player Keith C., who alerted us to this snack sculpture masterpiece. Keith shared this picture from a viral email that’s been going around—but this idea of Bologna Architecture remains no less impressive.

Any enterprising supermarkets, grocery stores or sandwich shops want to capitalize on this idea year-round with other landmarks? Do you know of any food markets that are already being this creative?

Swimming with Goldfish (and Milanos): The unexpected joys of playing Pongr

Pongr user Elizabeth T. is a power player and awesome brand enthusiast.

Reigning Champ: Elizabeth often shows up on many of the Pongr Leader Boards.

To be candid, how could New Hampshire’s Elizabeth Townes NOT impress us at Pongr?

As the person who has contributed the most photos (5,727 as of this morning and counting) in the most different brands (832 and counting), she is Pongr’s Supreme Power Player.

But it’s not all about quantity.  As a shopping enthusiast, Elizabeth prides herself on how often global brands notice her pictures and passion.

“I love it when companies follow me on Twitter (@NHChick11479) so I try to share the perfect shots,” she says. “It’s nice to see brands recognize the people who care about them the most.”

Elizabeth, 32, recently was surprised with a care package from Pepperidge Farm, which had noticed her enthusiasm for Milano Melts cookies through Pongr’s Twitter share feature.

The company blew her away with a complimentary case of 24 bags of Milanos, which she felt compelled to share with friends in her apartment building and at her church potluck supper.

Brand loyalty is often rewarded and Pongr's tools can help brands connect to the enthusiasts who love their products.

Spreading the Wealth -- Pongr player Elizabeth Townes shared her Pepperidge Farm bounty with friends at her church.

“The best part about Pongr is that you can play anywhere you go,” she says. “I love playing at the grocery store. Most of the time when I’m at Market Basket, Shaw’s and Hannaford, I’m snapping away with my cell phone.”

“Getting the free stuff is nice,” Elizabeth adds. “But honestly, I just play for fun.”

The Milano gift package came along with a personal handwritten note from Geri Allen, Pepperidge Farm’s manager of Corporate & Brand Communications:

Pongr's photo marketing tools helped connect Pepperidge Farm with brand enthusiast Elizabeth Townes.

Unexpected Surprise: Pepperidge Farm thanked Elizabeth for her passion with the best way they know how.... Cookies!

“I’m also a huge fan of their rye bread for my bologna and ham sandwiches and of course, their Goldfish. They’re cheesy, they’re cute and they’re always smiling — which is contagious,” Elizabeth says. “I also love to put them in my Campbell’s Soup, which by the way owns Pepperidge Farm!”

Which leads us to remind Pongr players about the benefits of photographing brand pairs that naturally fit together.  Taking pics of your favorite soup and crackers (or cheese and crackers) together can earn you points and status within each brand.  In case you haven’t seen it yet, Pepsi and Frito-Lay just teamed up with Pongr for their co-branded “Ultimate Match-Up” contest.

Click the screenshot below for more details!

Pepsi and Frito-Lay Ultimate Match-Up powered by Pongr's image recognition technology.

Pumpkin Power: Channeling the spirit of brand logos

Marty McFly's Nike sneakers from "Back to the Future."

I thought it was wild when Nike based their limited edition MAG shoes on the power-lacing, self-illuminated sneaks that Michael J. Fox wore on his hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II.  Nike just auctioned off 1500 pairs of the space-age Nike MAG to benefit Parkinson’s Disease research.

Almost as cool was seeing a grassroots fan-created advertisement for the movie shoes etched into a pumpkin!

Nike Logo -- Retro Pumpkin Advertising

The Keene Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire is notorious for attracting Halloween creativity, spirit and humor in the thousands of volunteer-carved designs. The amazing thing about some of the company logos that spontaneously appeared at the festival is that they weren’t paid advertisements.

Check out some of the brands that made dramatic cameos amongst the rows of traditional Jack O’ Lanterns….

U.S. Marines logo - Semper Fi

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Sanrio's Hello Kitty logo

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VW Beetle Logo

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LEGO Minifigure Logo

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Angry Birds logo

Pongr, the mobile photo-sharing game that connects brands with their most devoted fans, is all about celebrating genuine enthusiasm for a company or product. This is a passion that can’t be bought and can’t be faked.

The Hello Kitty pumpkin was undoubtedly carved by someone whose home is overflowing in Sanrio toys, school supplies and jewelry.

I wonder if there are any Hello Kitty fans serving in the Marines?

Whatever your passion is this Halloween, please keep Pongr’ing it!

Halloween Cereal and Brand Pumpkin Mascots!

Being a kid is a distant memory, but we still look forward to the creative advertising twists that surprise us in the supermarket breakfast cereal aisle!  The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee’s transformation into a Halloween Bee is particularly amusing.

HONEY NUT HALLOWEEN -- The Cheerios Bee is dripping with breakfast excitement!

Buzz the Honeybee stays cute no matter what the context, so how do you make him look Halloweeny?  Surround him with bats.  Ironically, both bats and bees are going through some serious environmental survival challenges these days, but let’s not get too depressed at trick-or-treat time.

PLENTY TO GRIN ABOUT - Chip the Wolf, who sings the praises of General Mills Cookie Crisp, has one of the nicest set of teeth in the mascot world.

Cookie Crisp used to have a cookie burglar mascot, but Chip the Wolf is a much more likeable character, especially if you respect law enforcement like Pongr does.

GOOD LUCK CHARM: Some Jack O'Lanterns aren't meant to be scary!

Channeling the same challenge as the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, there is no way to make the Lucky Charms mascot look mean and sinister without giving kids the creeps. So add a candlelight glow for some ghost stories and you’ve got the perfect touch.

Speaking of candlelight, General Mills putting pumpkin-carving patterns on its product packaging is a wonderful development. With those snazzy carving kits with kid-friendly mini-saws widely available, there’s no excuse not to bring Jack O’Lantern faces beyond basic geometric shapes.

We also love the new General Mills Superhero campaign and comic book premiums ensuring that the little Batmans in your life will continue the fun well beyond Halloween…

LUCKY COSTUME: Who knew that Leprechauns were in Gotham City?

So tell us about your favorite Halloween cereal experiences.  Are you dressing up as a cereal mascot?  Have you tried any of these cereal box Jack O’ Lantern carving patterns?  Are you using any cereal box packaging as part of your costume (oh, the versatility of recycled cardboard).

Please Pongr your Halloween pics to your favorite brands (brand@pongr.com) AND show off your stuff on the Pongr Facebook page!

(Pongr is an image recognition and mobile marketing company that uses photo-sharing games to make consumer packaged goods – CPGs – interactive with direct response advertising campaigns).

Pongr the World Series: Balancing Brands at the Ballpark

Any takers for Coors Light? (Click the pic to see Pongr fan photos!)

OK, I will admit that I am still having some emotional issues dealing with the fact that postseason baseball didn’t see the gorgeous Green Monster at Fenway Park this year.

Even though my beloved Red Sox collapsed in historic fashion, my consolation prize is how much fun I had playing Pongr in the stands. Food vendors have always impressed me with their spirit, physical endurance, and their seal-like balance.

Baseball goes with both foreign and domestic beer! (Click the pic to connect with Pongr Heineken fans).

If you’re fortunate enough to have World Series tickets in Texas or St. Louis, tip the beer and soda vendors a little extra for me — and Pongr their balancing acts to us by emailing or picture-texting to (brand)@pongr.com.

You may have noticed that Pongr’s mobile picture-sharing game has undergone some exciting changes — transforming from a career ladder-based game to one more widely rewarding raw fan enthusiasm for brands.

I can tell you, for example, that I was salivating for one of these slices of Papa Gino’s Pizza.

Never too late for a slice! (Click the pic to connect with Pongr Papa Gino's fans).

But I was even further mesmerized by this pizza guy’s mystical ability to balance his wares on his head without any other support:

Sign that pizza guy up for the circus!

No matter where you are for the World Series this weekend — at the ballpark or in your living room — try playing Pongr in between pitches.  By the way, Pongr’s image-recognition technology works for TV commercials, too, so there are no limits to expressing your fandom!