Cadbury is launching a promotion for its chocolate bars that will make use of mobile text messaging.

Cadbury is exploring the use of new media to target consumers in new ways. Previously Cadbury has used interactive TV with a good deal of success. The low cost and convenience of text messaging is expected to improve the effectiveness of promotional campaigns and this latest experiment by Cadbury will see whether or not it really does.

In the UK, the uptake of SMS, or text messaging, has been phenomenal with 3 million messages being sent every day. To date, the medium has been little used by commercial organizations, but Cadbury is making a significant effort to change that.

Cadbury is launching a promotion from mid-August that will hide phone-codes inside 65 million single pack chocolate bars, which can then be 'texted' to discover whether a prize has been won. Cadbury has recently experimented with other new media, such as interactive TV, and this latest move will serve as a trial run for the effectiveness and logistics of text message marketing.

A key benefit of the campaign will be the short-term increase in sales driven by the promotion itself. It is expected that the convenience and low cost of texting will entice more consumers to try the promotion. Previously, such competitions have relied on mailing entries, which is comparatively slow and inconvenient, or on expensive phone calls.

An SMS advertising trial by The Mobile Channel returned response rates of 63%, much higher than the typical response rate for other direct marketing campaigns, such as mail, which has a response rate of just 3%. Such a high hit-rate undoubtedly has marketing managers excited at the prospect for effective, targeted and successful campaigns.

However, it is crucial to secure the phone users' consent before texting, otherwise consumers will react negatively to the invasion of their privacy. Cadbury's promotion overcomes the privacy intrusion barrier by getting consumers to initiate the texting. The numbers sent to Cadbury will be stored for future use, but how it uses them will be crucial to the success of future SMS campaigns. Although direct texting could target consumers in on-the-go locations and induce impulse  purchases, this would contravene the code of conduct laid out by the Wireless Advertising Association. Cadbury's best bet is to use SMS marketing as a tool to run successive promotions to boost sales in short bursts.

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