Success Story

Shedd Aquarium

Text message CTA generated 325% more contest entries than a web entry.

The Shedd Aquarium found that a text message call to action generated 325% more contest entries than a web call to action in a television commercial.


The Shedd Aquarium needed to create significant awareness – and bring in visitors – for the premiere of a new aquatic show, Fantasea, in the renovated Oceanarium. Campaigns were created across multiple media channels, including a contest to win exclusive VIP tickets to the show. The Shedd team wanted to test the overall effectiveness and consumer preferences of different marketing tactics, specifically the Web versus SMS text messaging.


Shedd selected Upland Mobile Messaging to manage the SMS text messaging campaign and measure conversion rates. A TV commercial was created that aired on the four major networks (NBC, ABC, Comcast and FOX). Each commercial was the same except for the call to action to enter the contest.

  • Three stations asked viewers to go to a website to enter the contest.
  • The fourth station asked viewers to text the word FOX to 69866.

Once a viewer texted in, they received a message asking them to respond with their email address and zip code to officially enter.


When Shedd compared the entries received at the end of the promotion, they were amazed at the results:

  • The TV ad with an SMS call to action generated 325% more contest entries than any other call to action.
  • SMS entries made up 52% of the total contest entries, despite only running in 25% of the ads.
  • When Print and Outdoor were added in, SMS entries still made up more than half of all total respondents to the contest.


“Mobile text messaging has been working well for Shedd Aquarium and after results like this, we continue to think strategically about how to use SMS,” said Jay Geneske, Marketing Strategy, Shedd Aquarium. “Upland Mobile Messaging makes it extremely easy to set up and run campaigns, and the direct CRM integration allows us to be smart about the data.”

Shedd’s results reinforce that every TV and Out-of-Home campaign should have an SMS call-to-action. It just works.

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