3 Weird SMS Case Studies

Unusual uses of SMS

Some SMS campaigns are great. Others, not so great. And some, well, some are just straight out weird.
Here are three of the zanier case studies of how people are using SMS marketing & services.

Number one: Keeping your pollen allergies in check

To promote the launch of one of its allergen nasal sprays, Novartis, a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, started a Pollen-Count Alert SMS campaign.

What did the campaign involve? It should be obvious; it enabled people who suffer from allergies to subscribe to their campaign to receive regular, up-to-date pollen count information via SMS. Special alerts would be sent out when pollen counts were particularly high in the subscriber’s region.

Clever targeting. Great brand awareness. And kinda weird.
A pretty crafty campaign, if you ask me.


Number two: Making sure your vodka is the real deal

Apparently, the sale of counterfeit vodka is a major issue in Russia. Why? Well, like most consumables nowadays, the stuff that goes into it isn’t particularly good for humans. What sort of stuff? Think cologne water, antifreeze liquids, pure alcohol, etc. Each year in Russia, these pho alcohols are actually the cause of over 40,000 deaths. Not something to be taken lightly.

Rossipirtprom, an initiative run by the state, is the benevolent business behind this SMS campaign. (Of course, they are also responsible for producing 60% of the strong alcohol in the country, and a distributor for the leading brands.)

So what did they do?

Well, Russians can now send an SMS with the serial number of their vodka to a designated short code. They then get a response verifying (or not) the legitimacy of the product they’re about to hand over to their kidneys for processing.

Now Russians have a way ensure that they’re not drinking antifreeze.

Na Zdorovie!

Number three: Trading livestock

Now this one is my personal favourite. No longer are the days when sheep and goat herders in Afghanistan have to worry about being ripped off by middlemen and city-folk in the game of livestock trade.

Afghani sheep and goat herders are now able to send a text message to a mobile phone number, which responds, within a couple of minutes, the current market prices for livestock – information usually reserved for those shady middlemen. ‘Now,’ says Robert Kaitho, a Professor at Texas’s A&M, ‘the common people have access to that same information.’


So there you have it – three weird (but surprisingly effective) ways that businesses are using SMS services and marketing.

Just goes to show, there’s really no excuse for not being able to come up with ways that SMS could help your business. I mean, if goat herders are making it work, you can too.