Most branded entertainment is at best designed to raise brand awareness and the most top-of-funnel metrics. And over the many years I have been covering these efforts, I find they either fall flat as content or as promotion, often failing at both. A couple of notable exceptions from the Ikea and Topps brands four or five years ago are actually memorable in their cleverness. But the basic Webisodic format always has been troubled by the bogeys of quality, distribution and sheer longevity of audience interest. Even the best of these series struggled to keep people watching beyond a sample episode.
The recent Chipotle series “Farmed and Dangerous” is trying to break the pattern. Some reviewers, including our own Larry Dobrow, have been bowled over by the fact that is branded entertainment is actually, well, entertaining. Its distribution via Hulu gives the series a fighting chance that many predecessors lacked -- wide distribution and active merchandising.
But how do you convert this high-level interest and branding into actual customer leads and sales? Mobile activation, of course. The company is running in some of the ad pods in the series SMS prompts to enter a related trivia contest. Texting “Badmilk” to 30364 will let you opt in to three trivia questions on the current episode. After the three questions you can be entered into a sweepstakes for receiving a BYGO mobile coupon. They will even plunk it into your Passbook for easier redemption. The full program is outlined at SMS platform Tatango.
The program also allows you to set an SMS reminder to alert you when upcoming episodes are available. This is a good solution to the perennial problem of Webisodic dropoff.This is not Chipotle's first cross-platform rodeo involving mobile support for a digital video program. Its famously brilliant digital video “The Scarecrow” from last year paired a haunting infomercial with a genuinely fun mobile game. That game also moved the user from entertaining experience to a redeemable points. The company seems to have a handle on combining digital channels in ways that both entertain and result in measurable leads. Mobile is the end point.