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Texting Solutions In August 2008, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made either history or political spectacle when it attempted to announce Joe Biden as the vice presidential candidate over SMS text message. Before the campaign could send the text message announcement to supporters, mass media scooped the news and broke the story, but the magnitude of the campaign’s mobile efforts is noteworthy.

Nielsen estimates that the Biden text was received by 2.9 million mobile phone users in the U.S. over the c-ourse of that weekend last August, making it one of the biggest, broadest mobile marketing stunts to date.

Why make such an important announcement over a text message, though? It’s no new insight that the media landscape exploded in the past decade to yield dozens of new marketing channels. Why tap text messaging as the outlet for one of the campaign’s most important messages? Surely not for buzz alone …

Texting Solutions Through My Coke Rewards, Coca-Cola customers collect unique codes found on various Coca-Cola products and enter them into an account they’ve registered at When they reach certain point levels, they are able to redeem points for rewards. The mobile component of the program allows consumers to enter the codes over their mobile phone on the go. Coca-Cola’s mobile users typically send and receive about 32 messages a month to Coca-Cola.

Importantly, it’s not just kids or teens who are an active audience for short code marketing. In the Coca-Cola example, nearly half (47 percent) of users were 35 or older. That age diversity is not unique to Coca-Cola either. Overall, 53 percent of those engaging with free (standard rate) short codes, such as those used by brands in marketing, are sent by texters 35 and older. For an audience accustomed to traditional channels of marketing, it seems, the opportunity to engage with brands in a new way is a welcome experience.

Rewards programs are one way to ensure that a short code marketing campaign creates an engaging consumer experience; another logical opportunity is in couponing.

Texting Solutions When a chain of Ashley Furniture Homestores in the Carolinas wanted to bolster sales during a slow period this summer, they sent 6,000 text message coupons to customers who had opted in to receive information about special offers. Billed as a four-day “secret sale,” the chain of eight stores also sent nearly 29,000 e-mails to promote the sale. And the text message campaign ended up paying off. The chain says that $85,000 of the $135,000 in revenue generated from that sale was attributed to the SMS coupon, further estimating that for every $1 they spent in executing the text message campaign, they generated $122 in revenue.


  1. Papa Johns, Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut all allow customers to register ordering details online and then order pizzas over text message. Nielsen estimates that 552,000 AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers texted with Domino’s Pizza, 279,000 texted with Pizza Hut and 182,000 texted with Papa John’s in Q3 2008.
  2. Foot Locker sends special offers to its “VIP program” participants— they sent those texts to approximately 306,000 AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers in Q3 2008
  3. Subway’s FRESHBUZZ service allows Subway customers to receive news and promotions via text message. It is estimated that Subway sent these sandwich deals and news flashes to 212,000 AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers in Q3 2008.
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