With Pinterest-Fueled Photo Contest, Panasonic Wades into New Social Waters

If 2011 Was All About 'Likes,' 2012 Is the Year of the 'Repin'

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Like many marketers, Panasonic is still tiptoeing around the periphery of Pinterest trying to figure out exactly what its place is on the image-discovery website. In the meantime, the consumer-electronics company has tapped a media partner for a low-risk first test aimed at simultaneously building awareness for one of its brands while conducting a mini-case study to see how best to play in Pinterest's world in the future.

Over the past few months, Panasonic media agency MPG Media Contacts worked with PureWow, an email media company that produces lifestyle content targeting women in their 30s and 40s, to launch a "Photo of the Year" contest. The contest was publicized through an advertorial-like email to PureWow's 750,000 subscribers that asked readers to submit the best photo they've taken in the past year for a chance to win a Lumix camera.

PureWow editors picked the top 20 photos and then distributed them to three different websites for voting: PureWow's Pinterest page; a custom, Panasonic-branded app on PureWow's Facebook page; and a photo slideshow on PureWow.com. The contest entrant whose photo received the most "repins" (people sharing the photo to their own Pinterest pages) would get one Lumix camera, and another would go to one of the voters. The winners will be announced this week.

Over a two-week period, the contest registered more than 10,000 photo submissions, blowing away expectations of the agency, which had chosen PureWow for the Lumix program in part because of the demographic match between PureWow's readership and the Lumix target consumer, and in part because the campaign seemed like an easy way for Panasonic to test out a Pinterest brand integration before committing ongoing resources to maintaining a presence on the actual platform.

"This seemed like a really good way to get in through the backdoor," said Erin Martterer, VP-account director at MPG Media Contacts. "There wasn't a lot of responsibility on our end for generating the content and keeping it going, which we found attractive."

For PureWow's sales team which pitched the idea, the Pinterest tie-in seemed like a no-brainer considering its audience's attraction to the social-bookmarking site, according to CEO Ryan Harwood.

"These women are just crazy about Pinterest," he said.

In fact, Pinterest recently became the No. 3 traffic source for PureWow.com. And while Pinterest is known as a place to share images and photos, a recent PureWow blog post amassed more than 40,000 repins.

The campaign points toward an increasing opportunity for certain types of media properties to use Pinterest as a sales tactic in addition to a traffic source. Last year, the winner may have been chosen by the number of Facebook "likes" it received. This year? It's all about the repin.

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