Johnsonville Sausage Expands UGC Initiatives


Following its successful introduction of user-generated content (UGC) initiatives and a "Ville"-themed advertising campaign last summer, Johnsonville Sausage is turning up the heat for this year's peak grilling season. 

For traditional media exposure, Cramer-Krasselt/Milwaukee created a new national TV spot for this season's "Ville" campaign, which is premised on inserting words in front of "ville" that tie into social moments in which people enjoy Johnsonville's sausage, brats and other products ("Summerville," "Vacationville," etc.).

Like the original spot, the latest commercial -- airing on national broadcast and cable through September -- focuses on showing families and friends sharing fun at "Ville" gatherings and in activities enhanced by the products. The heavy television schedule is being complemented by out-of-home in key markets and online advertising on targeted sites.



On the UGC/digital involvement front, Johnsonville is building on its strategy of differentiating itself from the competition by providing fans with a growing number of ways to connect on an emotional level with one another and take "ownership" of the brand, sums up the company's creative director, Tony Rammer.

Last year's online "Create Your Own Ville" contest, in which people created their own word variations on the Ville theme for the chance to win $10,000 (or to win grilling prizes by voting on others' entries) drew high levels of participation, according to Rammer. "We started a community and conversations based on fans sharing what makes them feel good and how Johnsonville products can help make any good moment better," he says.

In this year's contest, "Share Your Ville" (hosted on shareyourville. com), people can upload videos capturing their Ville moments with family/friends in various grilling venues for chances to win prizes. One entry category specifically encourages people who reside in towns or regions whose names have "ville" on the end to share their experiences via videos.

Prizes include $30,000 in cash and grilling/outdoor entertaining and leisure products from Coleman, Hefty, Gander Mountain and other sponsor partners.

In another involvement feature, a "Grillville" advergame, site users test their skill on a virtual grill, cooking and serving virtual Johnsonville products to their guests, for chances to win $5,000 in cash and prizes (including a trip to the company's hometown, Sheboygan Falls, Wis., to attend Johnsonville Brat Days).

To build buzz, players who opt to share the game with friends via social media earn codes for additional entries. Opting to register and playing repeatedly also trigger additional entry opportunities.

Johnsonville and its prize sponsor partners are cross-promoting the contests on their respective sites and through their Facebook and Twitter presences.

In addition, Johnsonville is enhancing its main site (to relaunch in September) to enable new ways for fans to interact with one another and provide brand feedback/new product ideas. For instance, users will be able to create their own customized Johnsonville home pages -- including posting photos and videos of themselves preparing their own favorite Johnsonville recipes -- and share the content with others in the brand's community.

"We want our fans to be able to really make the site their own, and bond with one another and our brand," says Rammer. "We want the site to be more a social environment than a promotional experience."

The brand saw a "huge" buzz impact within the first six months of launching its social media efforts last year, and its pumped-up digital and traditional marketing efforts -- at a time when consumers are stretching budgets by cooking more meals at home -- helped drive an outstanding sales year in 2009, Rammer reports. "We're expecting an even better year in 2010 -- we had a great Memorial Day weekend," he adds.

In addition to stressing the joy of sharing Ville moments, Johnsonville has been posting the cost-per-serving for many of the recipes found on its site. "Consumers have been very responsive to this," Rammer notes.


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