When it launched at more than 1,000 Walmart stores in April 2021, Nightfood wanted to solidify that connection and drive trial by pregnant women. The brand reached out to Brandshare, the agency of record for the Walmart baby registry. The sampling company ships all parents who sign up for their registry on Walmart’s website a full box of products available through the registry, such as diapers, pacifiers and wipes.
The effort was spearheaded by Nightfood’s former COO, Jenny Mitchell, who had previously worked with Brandshare as CEO of Mam Baby Products. “We thought it would be really cool for us to let pregnant women know that if they signed up for the Walmart baby registry, they would be able to get two free pints of Nightfood,” says Nightfood CEO Sean Folkson.
Ice cream wouldn’t work in those boxes, but Brandshare suggested utilizing their OB/GYN network to get information on the product in the hands of pregnant women. “To be able to have information about Nightfood in the OB/GYN offices is such a credibility builder for us and provides exposure to the many, many women coming through there,” Folkson says. “It just seemed like a great opportunity for us.”
During June and July, Brandshare distributed 100,000 Nightfood brochures at 400 OB/GYN offices within five to seven miles of a Walmart store that sells three or more Nightfood flavors (such as Pickles for Two, which was designed specifically for pregnant women). The pamphlets shared product information and a QR code that could be scanned to access a website where shoppers could upload their receipt to receive a cashback rebate on the purchase of two pints of Nightfood via PayPal or Venmo.
The promotion was not retailer-exclusive, so the campaign also focused on markets such as Houston, Chicago and New Orleans, where the brand is sold by supermarket chains, including Kroger’s Harris Teeter, Albertsons Cos.’ Jewel-Osco, and H-E-B.
Brandshare avoided distributing the pamphlets near the couple of hundred Walmart stores that only launched with one or two Nightfood flavors. “The ability to really geotarget exactly the stores that were most important to us was a great feature,” Folkson says.
Folkson says he had tried to reach out to OB/GYN offices to provide samples, but was unable to make connections. He says the office venue would give the product more credibility than targeting pregnant women through Facebook. “I spent a day calling OB/GYN offices myself and offering to send them free ice cream, and you would think I was calling from another planet,” he says. “There was no traction, no headway.”
Brandshare runs 50 to 100 campaigns annually through various medical networks, with each office approving every product individually to ensure that the doctors and their patients will be interested. “That endorsement is important,” says Matthew Sussberg, Brandshare vice president, sales. “It’s one thing to drive sales immediately, which we obviously want to do. The other piece is building that brand equity.”
The effort was so popular that some offices needed more pamphlets by early July. The goal of the program was to increase awareness and make Nightfood even more closely associated with pregnancy. “We’re not necessarily measuring this in exactly how many pints [we sold] or QR codes got scanned,” Folkson says. “It’s a little bit of a longer vision for us in terms of really establishing ourselves so that we’re part of pregnancy culture.”
Folkson is already considering other ways to work with Brandshare on future programs, potentially placing branded freezers in doctors’ offices so that women can try the product more easily.