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Build-A-Bear taps Instagram to foster brand-building

Build-A-Bear is partnering up with Sony Pictures on a promotion that emphasizes mobile photo sharing as a key way to get the word out about a new line of plush toys.

The retailer has developed a line of plush characters from the upcoming film “Smurfs 2” that consumers can buy online or in-store. An Instagram contest that supports the promotion is running July 12–21.

“With approximately 100 million users of Instagram, this can’t be a bad marketing strategy for a test,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

“Contests are always an incentive to engage consumers in a campaign, and linked with sharing a picture of themselves that Sony Pictures is judging, it seems like using Instagram would be a winning addition to a very appealing mixture for a successful mobile campaign,” she said.

Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Build-A-Bear. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Build-A-Bear did not meet press deadline.

Photo love
To promote the new line of products, the retailer is running an Instagram campaign to get the word out.

The Instagram campaign takes place via the #IlovemyBuildABearSmurf hashtag.

Consumers are encouraged to snap pictures of their Smurf toys and upload it to the Instagram mobile application.

Build-A-Bear will then pick five winners to receive a $50 gift card.

To get the word out about the contest, Build-A-Bear posted a picture on its Instagram account on July 9. The message showed a picture of the Smurf products and encouraged consumers to follow the brand by July 12 as a way to tease the contest.

Smurfs 2 premiers in theaters on July 31.

Build-A-Bear is also promoting the Smurf products on its mobile site at the top of the page.

Copy encourages consumers to pick from roughly a half-dozen characters from the film and find accessories and clothing for them via the site.

From there, consumers can add the items to their shopping carts and checkout via the mobile site.

Instagram love
Instagram has become an overnight star for retailers looking to marry their mobile and social efforts.

The intersection between mobile and social continues to blur together for marketers, and Instagram helps brands capitalize on both opportunities.

For example, Victoria’s Secret recently leveraged Instagram for a photo-sharing contest that helped build up the retailer’s loyalty program (see story).

Additionally, Nike leveraged Instagram via a microsite earlier this year to trigger shoe sales (see story).

As more marketers increasingly rely on mobile and social, Instagram will likely play a key role for brands as a part of their marketing programs.

Additionally, the time-sensitive nature of this campaign triggers users to take an action on the spot.

“It’s good to have a time-sensitive element on a contest,” Ms. Troutman said.

“It pushes consumers to engage now versus waiting until they see the ad again and engage at another time, which leads to breakage,” she said.

“Compelling messaging coupled with an enticing offer with a contest that has a time-stamp is a winning combination for a mobile campaign.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York