Sprint has partnered with Roadtrippers to plot a summertime road trip for its Frobinson framily, but experts say the campaign's goals and ROI potential are unclear.
Road trip planner and travel site Roadtrippers has teamed up with Sprint to enable the latter's Frobinson spokes-framily to see the U.S. by car and generate branded digital memories.
For six weeks, Tom Frobinson, Sprint’s hamster mascot and his so-called framily, a portmanteau of friends and family, will embark on a road trip throughout the United States. Sprint had the idea for the Frobinsons to see America by car, but rather than plan a trip on Google Maps, the telecommunications giant reached out to Roadtrippers.
“They wanted a partner that could really help bring to life this trip in authenticity, character and uniqueness,” says Josh Green, who does special operations at Roadtrippers.
The 6,900-mile trip was designed with the individual personalities of Tom and his framily in mind. Front Royal, Virginia to Chicago is normally a 10-hour drive, but the Frobinsons will be taking the scenic route, visiting every place from South Beach, Miami, to the Grand Canyon to the world’s largest corn maze in Illinois.
Along the way, Tom will be sharing updates from the road on Twitter, but not exclusively. The Frobinsons will also use Sprint’s Twitter and Facebook pages and Roadtrippers’ Twitter feed and blog, as well as the map on their homepage.
“The problem with Twitter is that you tell a story and if people don’t happen to see it in that firehose, they miss out,” explains Cristin Jordan, vice president at DigitasLBi, the digital marketing agency that worked with Sprint on the campaign. “Using Roadtrippers’ map functionality, you can follow the story if you’re not on Twitter every day.”
While December comScore research found that Twitter is becoming more popular with younger users, Ben Plomion, vice president of marketing at digital marketing company Chango, wonders why such a visual campaign isn't also on Instagram.
Given that summer is typically the slow season for sales, as well as when people are most likely to plan vacations, Plomion notes that the partnership is very well-timed, if a bit unclear.
"The biggest thing for me is, what are they trying to achieve?" he asks. "Is the goal to explain what 'framily' [is] and generate some buzz around that concept? Is the goal to get some engagement online? Is the goal to direct the people who engaged to sprint.com?" he asks.
The partnership allows the two companies to leverage each other’s strengths: Sprint’s size and household-name status and the younger, more social demographic of Roadtrippers.
Plomion thinks this pairing is a good example of content marketing, though as is often the case, it's not apparent how it will translate to ROI.
"The challenge is in the value. It's not clicks or engagement, it's revenue," he says. "Content marketing is exciting and it's growing, but I think the next evolution will be attribution marketing."
Sprint's Framily Plan debuted in January. A Sprint rep previously told ClickZ that framily recognizes the modern American family is made up of people related by blood, but also those they interact with every day.
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Before joining the ClickZ team, Mike O'Brien was a reporter for newspapers in Brooklyn and Eugene, Oregon, where he earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Having also worked in newspaper sales, Mike enjoys writing about marketing and advertising much more than selling it.
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