Pilot Flying J Gives a Hearty 'Welcome'

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Pilot Flying J Gives a Hearty 'Welcome'

By Chris Gelbach - 12/21/2018

Knoxville, Tenn. — For its second year as “Official Travel Center of the SEC,” Pilot Flying J enhanced its in-store experience to reinforce the travel centers as a critical location for college football game-day travel essentials.

The “Welcome To” campaign by Pilot Flying J contained new creative, exclusive myPilot app promotions and partnerships with ESPN/Southeastern Conference personalities Paul Finebaum and Laura Rutledge. It also included partnerships with Orca (coolers) and official SEC sponsors Johnsonville and Dr Pepper (Keurig Dr Pepper) to celebrate and support game-day activities.

“We’re excited to elevate the second year of our four-year sponsorship with ESPN and the SEC with a campaign that reinforces to fans that we are the one-stop-shop for all college football game-day and travel essentials,” says Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer for Pilot Flying J.

For brands like Johnsonville, the partnership supported a large opportunity within a specific channel. “Johnsonville’s foodservice division has seen the majority of its recent growth come from the c-store market,” says Steve Dutton, Johnsonville SE foodservice business manager. “C-stores have become more appealing as consumers seek quick, convenient and quality food choices. So we’ve been able to take (our) craft and bring a quality sausage product that also delivers our legendary flavor for that grab-and-go consumer.”

The collaboration also extended to Pilot Flying J’s mobile “Fueling All Fans Experience” unit, which visits SEC college campuses. The attraction offered cold brew coffee and gave fans the chance to enter on-site to win a weekly “ultimate tailgate package” giveaway from Orca and Pilot Flying J. Johnsonville supported the activation by cooking its cheddar beer brats on its mobile Big Taste Grill for fans and offering a 50-cent coupon to encourage trial. Fans could also download a separate $1 coupon within the myPilot app from Sept. 17-30.

“We’ve got a terrific synergy as two SEC sponsors looking to build affinity with Southeast consumers,” Dutton says. “We appreciate the trust Pilot Flying J has put in Johnsonville by including (the) cheddar beer brat on (its) roller grill menu. So we’re ready to help build awareness with their consumers about this new offering.”

Orca coolers and drinkware emblazoned with logos of participating SEC schools were available for purchase in relevant regional Pilot Flying J travel centers from Aug. 31 through Nov. 1. Throughout the college football season, Pilot Flying J and Orca offered exclusive giveaway opportunities like the “ultimate tailgate package,” a weekly giveaway at all “SEC Nation” stops.

In addition, Dr Pepper fans who purchased and scanned a 20-ounce Dr Pepper at participating Pilot Flying J locations received 30% off college gear from Aug. 31 through Dec. 6.

The campaign’s “Welcome To” creative running across TV and digital platforms features enthusiastic team member Carol. Spots will air on SEC Network, ABC and ESPN as well as on ESPN.com, SECnetwork.com and the ESPN app. Pilot Flying J also was the presenting sponsor for three of “SEC Nation’s” regular-season broadcasts.

While the “Welcome To” marketing campaign debuted as part of Pilot Flying J’s official SEC sponsorship, it will be integrated into a larger brand campaign. In Pilot Flying J’s home city of Knoxville, the campaign was tested on billboards.

Various digital ads promoting the campaign ran on the myPilot and Waze apps, social media, at participating Pilot Flying J locations and during select event activations at SEC games. A Dr Pepper digital ad ran on Fanatics.com. Broadcasters Finebaum and Rutledge also supported the campaign with sponsored posts on social media.

Pilot Flying J’s in-house creative services team completed the Johnsonville and Orca creative, while Dr Pepper managed its own creative. In a statement, Pilot Flying J officials say the partnerships are key to improving fans’ in-store experience and that they would evaluate opportunities to continue working with the brands.

RETAILER: Pilot Flying J

BRANDS: Johnsonville, Dr Pepper, Orca

KEY INSIGHT: Convenience stores are appealing as  consumers seek quick, convenient and quality food choices, especially for college football game-day travel.

ACTIVATION: Pilot Flying J’s “Welcome To” campaign contained new creative, exclusive myPilot app promotions and partnerships with ESPN/Southeastern Conference personalities as well as fellow SEC sponsors Johnsonville and Dr Pepper.

Pilot Flying J staged mobile events at Southeastern Conference college campuses.

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