Text Message Marketing Case Studies

TMZ Text-to-Win Contest Generates 300,000 Entries!

TMZ Text-to-Win Contest GIF

During Spring Sweeps in 2016, TMZ ran a text-to-win contest that generated 300,000 entries. The crazy part is that Spring Sweeps is only 11 days long, which means there was an average of 27,272 text-to-win entries each day!

So how did the TMZ text-to-win contest work? All viewers had to do was watch TMZ Live, and wait till the “Million Dollar May Keyword” of the day appeared on the screen. When it did, viewers were supposed to text that keyword to the SMS short code 34490. Each day there was a different SMS keyword, and each time a viewer texted the “Million Dollar May Keyword” to the SMS short code, they increased their odds of winning the text-to-win grand prize. Some of these keywords that TMZ used for their text-to-win contest are below.

  • May 16: RICH
  • May 17: BANK
  • May 18: BUCKS
  • May 19: LOOT
  • May 20: CASH
  • May 23: GOLD
  • May 24: DIAMONDS
  • May 25: LUXURY
  • May 26: COIN
  • May 27: STACKS

TMZ Text-to-Win Contest Example - Online Ad

What was the grand prize for the text-to-win contest? The winner of the grand prize was awarded the following…

  • A $10,000 check.
  • Roundtrip economy class airfare to the greater Los Angeles area for the grand prize winner and one guest.
  • Hotel accommodations in the greater Los Angeles area for two nights for the grand prize winner and up to one guest.
  • A visit to the TMZ production offices in the greater Los Angeles area.

The best part, the grand prize winner got the chance to win $1,000,000! How? The grand prize winner was presented with 100 envelopes, with one of the envelopes being the winning envelope. If the grand prize winner selected the correct envelope out of the 100 envelopes, they would win $1,000,000! Unfortunately, the grand prize winner didn’t select the right envelope, but they still got a pretty rad trip down to Los Angeles and the chance to tour the TMZ studio… That’s in addition to a cool $10,000 check.

While we’ve seen many text-to-win contests here at Tatango, we haven’t seen one up till now that has used a daily “passcode” as part of the entry process. While this obviously worked for TMZ, as they had over 300,000 entries to their text-to-win contest, this could work for any brand that wants to drive repeat business. For example, if you’re a quick-service restaurant, you could run a week-long text-to-win contest, where each day a new passcode is printed on customer receipts. Customers would then text that passcode to your SMS short code, and the more times they visit your quick service restaurant, and get the daily passcode, the higher their chance of winning would be.

TMZ also did a great job of advertising their text-to-win contest to their fans. They advertised their text-to-win contest on Twitter, as you can see below.

They even used Twitter video to release this 13-second promotional video for their text-to-win contest.

TMZ also promoted the same video on Instagram, as you can see below.


TMZ even promoted the text-to-win contest to their Facebook fans, using their Facebook fan page. You can find the Facebook post here, or see the screenshot of the post on Facebook below.

TMZ Text-to-Win Contest Example - Facebook Ad

Do you know of a brand that has recently run a successful text-to-win contest? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Interested in running a text-to-win contest similar to TMZ? Contact Tatango today to discuss how your brand can run their very own text-to-win contest. We look forward to hearing from you!

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