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How Do You Like Your Content Marketing – Cheesy, Fruity, or Extremely Personal?

This week in content marketing, a Trader Joe’s contest stretches user-generated content on and on. Pepsi tries an expensive approach to tempt people to try a surprising new flavor. And a Kia dealership in Canada test drives personalized video content.

Trader Joe’s grilled cheese contest

Trader Joe’s invited its customers to become “cheftestants” in its #TJsGrilledCheeseContest to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month. The “chefs” were asked to craft gooey goodness from no more than five ingredients – all current Trader Joe products. The winner gets a $200 TJ’s gift card and their recipe featured on the Trader Joe’s website. Each of the two runners-up will receive a $100 TJ’s gift card.

By the last day of the contest, more than 1,000 people had used the hashtag on Instagram. Some entered elaborate creations (17-plus steps for a grilled cheese sandwich?). One group even turned it into a contest within a contest: Three roommates gave each other 10 minutes to shop for ingredients. Each person made a grilled cheese creation, and they asked their friends to choose a winner.

To enter, participants had to craft an Instagram post and put the recipe and the tag #TJsGrilledCheeseContest in the caption.

TJ judges will recreate their favorites in their test kitchen and select the winners. Taste accounts for 50% of the score, creativity (25%), and photo (25%).


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WHY IT MATTERS: We love a good – and yummy – example of interactive content marketing. Running the contest only on Instagram makes sense for Trader Joe’s, which doesn’t have an official Twitter or Facebook account listed on its website.

And the hashtag gives the user-generated content a broader life. Instead of submitting recipes directly to Trader Joe’s, the cheftestants shared their entries with their followers and others on Instagram. The entries will live on past the one week when they were accepted. People can continue to read and share the posts, cook up the recipes, and craft their own posts based on their culinary creations. It’s a never-ending promotion – one that’s transcended the original channel. The hashtag brings up recipes and content about the contest on Twitter, too.

Kudos to Trader Joe’s, too, for whipping up instructions – create, snap, tag, caption, post – that are easy to explain and understand. Simple entry rules make it easier for people to get into the game.

#TJsGrilledCheeseContest is a recipe for endless user-generated content (via @CMIContent). What’s cooking in your #ContentMarketing kitchen this week? #WeeklyWrap #Examples #UGC Share on X

Pepsi Mango takes on matchmaking

MTV and Pepsi rolled out a “refreshing” new content partnership this week. Match Me If You Can is a TV show featuring eight reality TV stars interested in a new chance at finding love.

As the trailer description explains, “Using cutting-edge technology, the Mango Matchmaker will help create surprisingly perfect matches and send our daters on a journey of date activities, unlike anything you have seen before.”

A Mango Matchmaker? Yes. The name comes from the product launch the series supports – Pepsi Mango. “We also know that sometimes a perfect match can be quite surprising,” Pepsi’s marketing vice president Todd Kaplan said.

The series – produced by ViacomCBS’ in-house branded content studio, Velocity – launched Wednesday during MTV’s hit The Challenge: Double Agents and on MTV’s YouTube channel. The remaining five episodes will hit the YouTube channel every Wednesday. After that, the series will be available on Pluto TV.

WHY IT MATTERS: Product placement has largely given way to integrated branded content opportunities. Telling compelling stories in an interesting way, like this dating show, are the better option now and in the future.

And brands don’t have to do it all by themselves. Pepsi didn’t create or produce the story, it worked with partners MTV and ViacomCBS’ Velocity, tapping into their expertise (and their ready-to-go audience too.)

While the fate of a mango-flavored Pepsi remains up in the air, the Match Me if You Can Show is seeing early promotional success. The trailer had over a million views five days after it was posted.

Are @pepsi and mango a match? TBD. But the promo video for the brand’s reality series with @MTV is already a hit. Details and more #ContentMarketing flavors below via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap #MatchMeIfYouCan Share on X

Kia dealership gets personal

Forget “Dear INSERT NAME HERE.” A Kia dealership in Canada has taken personalized content to the extreme.

Sherwood Kia has its salespeople create personalized videos for prospects. This one, showing the 2021 Kia Telluride, was made specifically for a prospect named James. It popped up in the Google Discover feed of CMI’s Ann Gynn who had searched for the car earlier.

Mike, Sharrae, Sx, Khalid, and others also have been recipients of a personalized video from Sherwood Kia.

The videos are designed for one-to-one communication. But posting them to the dealership’s public YouTube channel lets many others see them too. More than 6,400 people (presumably not all named James) have watched the one made for James.

WHY IT MATTERS: Personalization makes a difference. According to research from Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

Though these examples are understandably a little rough, they give the recipient personal, direct attention. The concept is ripe for replication.

Don’t have a car to explore? Think about other topics (even if it’s just a “thanks for subscribing” message) where you can turn on the camera, talk for a minute or two, and send directly to a specific person. Make sure all the information you share is accurate, though. One commenter noted that the salesperson in the video for James incorrectly called the edition Nightsky instead of Nightfall.

Personalized #videos are great for 1-to-1 #ContentMarketing. A @Kia dealership in Canada figured out how to make them do double duty by posting them to a #YouTube playlist via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap #Examples Share on X
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute