Walmart’s Carrier Classic is a new Veteran’s Day tradition. The college basketball tournament, played out on an aircraft carrier, garnered more than 10 million viewers on ESPN last year, thanks in part to heavy use of traditional media to advertise the event. But this year, with the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy dominating the news and pre-empting programming, the producer turned to social media.
The Carrier Classic was founded by Morale Entertainment Foundation in an effort to celebrate active and veteran U.S. military. The company worked with Wishpond, a provider of online marketing tools for brands and retailers, to create and implement a social media strategy that included participation from colleges via Facebook contests.
The Second Annual Carrier Classic, aboard the USS Yorktown, will be shown on the NBC Sports Network, kicking off the NCAA Basketball season with Notre Dame Women playing Ohio State.
Walmart came up with the idea of ithanku, a social media campaign that asked people to post photos, videos and writings offering thanks to the work of military troops. The messages began appearing on tabs on the Facebook pages of Walmart and Carrier Classic on Wednesday, and they’ll continue to be updated through the end of the tournament.
Wishpond technology allows the same campaign to be delivered across mobile devices, Facebook page tabs, websites, email and near-field communications-enabled posters in physical locations. Supported promotions include offers, sweepstakes, donation or vote contests and local promotions, with integration with Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and WordPress. It includes analytics that show the source of traffic and demographic information on those who engage with a campaign.
“They wanted the campaign to run everywhere. We’ve seen 30 to 40 percent of users are coming through mobile devices, so it would have been a waste if they were not supported on mobile,” said Wishpond CEO Ali Tajsekandar.
Today, Wishpond announced Wishpond All-in-One Marketing Suite for Retailers and Brands, a complete integration of its marketing tools that lets marketers execute, manage and analyze online marketing activities including social promotions and contests, ads and distribution, customer engagement, and customer analytics, across all channels.
The subscription-based suite has a self-serve, online interface that’s targeted toward small and medium-sized businesses; large marketers such as Walmart can also take advantage of a customized, professional services offering.
A dashboard lets marketers see demographic information on prospects and use that data for better targeting for future campaigns.
“All the campaigns or social stories or whatever you run is tied together and tied back into our analytics so it can be used to target future campaigns,” Tajsekandar said. “Going beyond one campaign, you can see over time the number of customers in the database, and you can create a timeline or create a customer segment. When someone becomes your customer, you can reach them as many times as you like without paying Facebook for another ad.”