$100,000 wedding contest builds
brand awareness at Ben Bridge Jewelers.

Wedding contest at Ben Bridge Jewelers
Participants in the sweepstakes completed a series of challenges over nine weeks, including posting on Instagram.

Ben Bridge’s Wedding of the Century sweepstakes with a prize of a $100,000 wedding began as a Facebook campaign for the company’s 100th anniversary in 2012. “Originally, it was just a way to highlight our history, to talk about 100 years in business,” says Mark Bridge, VP of marketing. “But what it ended up doing is increasing our awareness among millennial brides and grooms.” — EILEEN McCLELLAND


Bridge notes that most millennials don’t have jewelry preferences before they begin shopping for an engagement ring. “So, we asked ourselves ‘What do we need to do to get their awareness?’ To be associated with happy moments is a very nice thing. From an ad and branding standpoint, the idea is ‘Imagine that this is you. You could win a dream wedding.’ It’s been a way of saying, ‘We’re here, we have beautiful jewelry and we want to be part of the special moment in your life.’”

The two-month campaign garnered more than 2.3 million impressions online.


The big push in 2015, the contest’s fourth year, was to open it up to multiple social media platforms, most notably Instagram. Brick Kane of Jones Advertising interviewed a half dozen social media specialists and contracted with a company called Social Toaster to run the campaign.

Advertising was primarily digital with banner ads; there was also instore POS advertising at more than 70 locations, and some broadcast and radio messages.

Because Ben Bridge lowered the barrier to enter — requesting just basic information — participation in the contest doubled. Asking contestants to complete a series of challenges over a nine-week period also ensured a high engagement rate.

For example, contestants were asked to have their photo taken outside a Ben Bridge store, and post it, in order to qualify for weekly prizes. Weekly prizes gave contestants the incentive to return repeatedly to engage with the platform. The winning couple, chosen at random, was awarded cash, a honeymoon and jewelry.

One of the challenges facing the contest is the fast-changing digital landscape. In 2012, the contest didn’t even work on mobile platforms, and in 2015, 85 to 90 percent of applications were mobile.


“We tend to look at it as an awareness piece, “ Kane says.

The two-month campaign garnered more than 2.3 million impressions online, generating more than 56,000 social media shares and more than 80,000 visits to branded-site content. The 27,000 people who signed up are available for marketing and email campaigns.


5 “Stories about ‘how this is made’ don’t seem to have the same degree of stickiness that personal stories and jewelry do,” Mark Bridge says.

Use social media to ease threshold resistance. “Whenever we build a new store, brand awareness makes it easier to come in,” Bridge says.

Why work with professionals? Brian Razzaque, CEO of Social Toaster, says pros can help ensure authentic engagement, and offer advice on legal complexities and the right way to structure a contest, along with managing the nuts and bolts of technology.


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