Everyone likes getting gifts, but sometimes giving them can be just as rewarding. That’s what nominate-a-friend programs do: put your customers in the position to show their generous spirit and boost your brand along the way.
Nominate-a-friend programs encourage customers to recognize their friends, family, and colleagues by recommending them to receive free goods or services. They are a unique way to leverage your customer base to boost visibility and reach new consumers.
Like referral programs, nominate-a-friend programs tap into powerful behavioral economics principles. Nominating others makes your customers feel good about themselves, and that generous feeling, in turn, makes them feel good about your brand. The friends who receive these gifts also feel good and are more disposed to spend money on your brand in the future. Your company gets to help people and take advantage of excellent brand optics at the same time. Everybody wins.
We’re sharing some of our favorite ways that brands have leveraged nominate-a-friend programs recently. These examples all showcase how nominate-a-friend programs are a powerful way to showcase your brand’s values and connect with your customers.
1. Reebok Gives Back to Essential Workers
The #ReebokLove nomination program gave customers the chance to honor essential workers while also showcasing the utility and comfort of Reebok shoes.
Reebok launched the program in May 2020 as part of their overarching Covid support campaign, the Give Back program. They asked customers to nominate frontline and essential workers using a form on Reebok’s website. The company then selected recipients to receive free shoes.
The campaign went viral on Twitter as both nominators and recipients tweeted using the #ReebokLove hashtag.
The campaign let Reebok honor everyday heroes (and, in fact, the brand offers a 30% discount to frontline workers, first responders, educators, and more), but it was also a handy piece of brand synergy. Reebok makes sturdy, comfortable sneakers that are perfect for long days on your feet. This campaign let them showcase that utility alongside their altruism.
2. Coors Buys America a Beer
As Covid shut down bars across the country, Coors stepped in to lift spirits by giving out free beer. Their nominate-a-friend program was a fun way to generate goodwill and publicity.
This campaign has a charming origin story. Ninety-three-year-old Olive Veronesi, trapped inside by the pandemic, posted a sign in her window exclaiming, “I need more beer!” When that photo went viral, Coors sent Olive 10 free cases of beer. But they weren’t done.
Coors announced on Twitter that they would send out 500,000 free Coors Lights. People could nominate friends and family by tweeting that their nominee #CouldUseABeer. Not surprisingly, the campaign went viral.
Coors’ nominate-a-friend program was a lighthearted way for the brand to build solidarity during dark times. Britt Nolan, CCO for DDB, Coor’s marketing agency, told Adweek: “What we found is that it’s really hard to articulate how people are feeling right now. It just sucks. And it sucks differently for everybody.” With the #CouldUseABeer campaign, Coors reminded consumers that we’re all in this together.
3. Pepsi Encourages Customers to Be “Stronger Together”
Pepsi also pivoted their marketing materials in 2020 to highlight local heroes. Their “Stronger Together” campaign helped them connect on a more personal level with consumers during a time when traditional product marketing had lost its punch.
Like everyone, Pepsi had other plans for 2020. Their marketing plans mostly revolved around the rollout of their new slogan, “That’s what I like.” This campaign took a backseat once Covid hit and traditional mass-marketing efforts began to look trivial.
Instead, they used Nurses Appreciation Day, May 6th, as a springboard to kick off their “Nominate a Hero” initiative. Pepsi asked their customers to nominate essential workers and healthcare workers to receive care packages worth $1,000. Additionally, some of the heroes were featured on Pepsi radio ads or showcased on the Stronger Together website.
Pepsi’s campaign was a smart pivot during a time when product-centered advertising needed to take a back seat to social responsibility. Studies have already shown that consumers are more receptive to ads that illustrate how brands are helping the global fight against Covid. With the Stronger Together campaign, Pepsi could connect with consumers personally while still promoting brand visibility.
4. Hello Bello Gives the Gift of Diapers
Designer diaper company Hello Bello used their nominate-a-friend program to gain credibility and brand awareness.
Hello Bello specializes in direct-to-consumer high-quality diapers with beautiful designs and a premium price tag. As a newcomer in the baby supply world, they have an uphill road ahead of them to steal market share from diaper giants like Huggies and Pampers. The fact that the brand was started by celebrity parents Dax Shephard and Kristen Bell gave it some cache, but the company needed to build more awareness and trust among new parents.
Their 2020 #GivingTuesday campaign aimed to rectify this by giving out a year’s worth of diapers and wipes every Tuesday for a year. Customers could fill out a form to nominate parents they thought deserved a free year of diapers. The initiative rolled out on their website and on Instagram, where Bell shared it with her 14.6 million followers.
The campaign was so successful at increasing Hello Bello’s visibility that the brand decided to continue it in 2021, with a twist. This year each of the 52 families selected can “pay it forward” to another family. The brand is increasing their altruism and their positive word of mouth.
5. Glossier Gives Healthcare Workers a Sneak Peek at New Products
Cosmetic’s brand Glossier used a nomination program to build buzz around a new product debut and honor frontline workers at the same time.
Glossier announced the debut of their long-awaited hand cream alongside their nominate-a-friend program. The brand declared that they would donate their entire first run of 10,000 tubes of hand cream to healthcare workers. Fans could nominate worthy teams to receive 25, 50, or 80 tubes of cream.
The nominate-a-friend tactic let Glossier showcase their altruism while also building awareness for their newest product. They rolled out the hand lotion to the general public just one week later. But giving healthcare workers that first exclusive and letting their customers decide who got those prizes drew attention to their charitable nature, as well as their new hand cream.
6. The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Put Essential Workers Courtside
The NBA team honored essential workers and engaged their fans using a nominate-a-friend program.
During the 2020-2021 season, the Nets asked their fans to nominate NYC essential workers who emphasized what it means to be “New York Tough” and “Brooklyn Strong.” For each home game, the organization selected a worker to attend and be honored during the game. The program was run in conjunction with the banking giant Barclays under the hashtag #BarclaysEssentialTogether.
When traditional in-house audiences were an impossibility, the Nets were able to interact with and show deference to their loyal fans. The program generated social and traditional media interest, making it a great PR move for both the Nets and Barclays.
Build Your Own Nominate-A-Friend Program with Extole
Nominate-a-friend programs play a dual role by bolstering your brand’s charitable image and extending your reach through word-of-mouth marketing. They are simple to set up, easy to promote using social media, and a win-win proposition for you and your customers. You can connect with your customers and support causes that matter.
Extole can help you quickly build nomination programs that foster personal connections and create meaningful interactions. Head over to our nominate-a-friend page to learn more.