ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Old Navy taps SMS to drive excitement for Black Friday promotions

Old Navy is leveraging social media and a text-to-win game to entice Black Friday shoppers hoping to win a $1 million jackpot or a $200 shopping spree from the retailer.

Old Navy claims that consumers have up to five times better odds of winning the second annual “Overnight Millionaire” sweepstakes than last year. For shoppers that will be waiting in long lines and seeking ways to pass time on Black Friday, Old Navy hopes that the text-to-win game will increase their engagement and give them the opportunity to win one of 1,000 available shopping sprees at the store.

“Mobile is a critical piece of our ongoing in-store and ecommerce strategy,” said Julie Luker, director of PR & partnerships for Old Navy, San Francisco. “We just rolled out an order-in-store program to select stores, allowing customers to access and purchase inventory from our e-commerce site while in store.

“Associates equipped with a mobile point-of-purchase device assist customers in making the purchase directly from the store floor.”

Previous success
Old Navy, which has 261,000 followers on Twitter, has seen previous success with the Overnight Millionaire giveaway. Social media analytics firm Unmetric found that the designated #onemilthrill hashtag was the most used and most engaging on Twitter.

Old Navy scarcely used the #blackfriday and #cybermonday hashtags in its own Tweets, but saw its followers use those extensively, thereby helping to promote the contest.

The retail brand also leveraged YouTube for the promotion, using Oscar-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy in both a 70-second and 30-second video. Ms. McCarthy played a woman on a game show disappointed to win a set of towels as a prize, only to be elated when informed that Old Navy was giving away a million dollars on Black Friday.

Last year’s Overnight Millionaire was 11-year military veteran Scott Rowe, who was featured in a video for Old Navy as well. The brand is looking forward to giving back to its fans with its holiday deals and high-stakes promotions.

Mobile participation
Rolling out Black Friday campaigns or sweepstakes on mobile as people wait in line is an optimal plan of outreach, since most consumers will have their mobile devices on them and will be seeking ways to pass the time.

Consumers wanting to win one of the 1,000 available $200 Old Navy shopping sprees will be entered after playing a text-to-win game on their mobile devices. The game will be accessible when Old Navy opens for business at 4 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving and will end on Sunday, Nov. 30.

“Text-to-wins are commonplace but they have several things going for them – almost everyone texts and absolutely everyone likes free stuff,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of mobile-strategy firm Gotta Mobilize, Seattle. “Success depends on the prize and the prominence of the call to action. Having CTAs where people are queuing is smart.”

The first 100 Black Friday shoppers lined up at each Old Navy store will receive a game card that ensures eligibility for a chance to win the Overnight Millionaire giveaway. That winner will be randomly chosen on Nov. 28.

“We will be distributing instructions to enter the shopping spree contest both in stores and via our social channels when stores open on Thanksgiving for Black Friday shopping,” Old Navy’s Ms. Luker said. “To enter, customers text a supplied code word to a designated number. Winning entrants will receive a $200 coupon delivered via mobile for in-store redemption.”

Ultimately, the text-to-win campaign is designed as a tool for customer engagement to increase. While the game is established for a short period of time, the aftereffects of playing can last longer.

“Brands should view these as springboards to building loyalty clubs,” Mr. Hasen said. “Then value can be provided into the future.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York