Loyalty 360 had the opportunity to hear from McAlister’s Deli and learn more about how they are engaging their fans and supporting local communities through this summer’s Tea Town USA promotion. 

What is the McAlister’s Tea Town USA promotion? 

Last year, nearly 200 McAlister’s Deli communities battled through the heat of summer to win the title of Tea Town USA. 125,000 votes were cast, and in the end, it seemed that Longview, Texas, had won the fight.

But that was just Round 1.

Now McAlister’s Deli is proud to announce the return of Tea Town USA. And this time, it’s Tea Townier than ever.

Bigger prizes. More challenges. New ways to win. And this time, the promotion will run twice as long, doubling your town’s chance to put the competition on ice before voting ends with Free Tea Day.

Here’s how it’ll all go down:

Facebook remains the hub for McAlister’s Tea Town throw down, and every fan will get a chance to vote for his or her town once per day. But that’s just the beginning. You can earn your town another two points a day: one by checking in through a smart phone at your local McAlister’s and one by uploading a snapshot to our weekly photo challenges.

Each point is a breeze to earn. Voting on Facebook remains simple and straightforward. Then just visit a McAlister’s location and pull up the Facebook app on any smart phone to “check in” and earn another point. Keep your phone out, because you’ll want to take a few photos of you and your McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea, then upload them to our Facebook photo challenges.

Three ways to win. Three ways to show your love for your local McAlister’s.

And the points don’t end there. If your photo wins a weekly Tea Town challenge, you could earn hundreds — or even thousands — of bonus points for your town, plus some sweet McAlister’s prizes for yourself.

Speaking of prizes, did we mention that winning Tea Town USA is an even bigger deal this time around?

Your town can win big money for local community projects and nonprofits:

• First place: $7,500 and serious bragging rights for a year

• Second place: $5,000 and moderate bragging rights for six months

• Third-Fifth Place: $2,000 and a good day or two of bragging rights

• Sixth-Tenth Place: $1,000 and your mother will be proud

So don’t wait until the heat’s on to start your sprint on the Tea Town track to glory. Get ready for some ice-cold competition. Get ready to pour a tall glass of hometown pride.

Get ready for Tea Town USA.

What inspired the McAlister’s Deli Tea Town USA promotion? 

People were posting on our Facebook wall that they felt like “their” McAlister’s was the best in the nation. They have a real connection and loyalty to their local McAlister’s. We wanted to give them the opportunity to prove it and also have a fun, interactive promotion that engaged not only our guests, but also our employees. There is a lot of pride in the McAlister’s Nation.

What is the objective of the promotion? 

To maintain our place as the preeminent purveyor of Sweet Tea in America while also encouraging frequency by loyal guests and to promote trial by new and lapsed users.

What tools (web, social media, email) are you using to engage McAlister’s fans

All of them! We have a website www.teatownusa. , a Facebook app which houses the competition on our Brand Facebook page www.facebook.com/teafreaks , we’re utilizing Facebook places, we send out “DeliGrams” with updates and reminders (our e-marketing program), and also use twitter www.twitter.com/mcalistersdeli . There is also a great deal of 4-walls promotion.

We hear that it’s bigger and better than last year!  What is new in this year’s Tea Town USA promotion? 

McAlister’s customers will be able to interact with the 2011 Tea Town USA promotion in several new ways. But at its core, the campaign remains the same. Each town with a McAlister’s is competing for the title of Tea Town USA. Voting takes place daily on Facebook, with lots of opportunity for bonus points to help your town surge ahead.


Last year’s Tea Town USA increased McAlister’s Facebook fan base by more than 100% in one month. This year, Facebook remains the hub for Tea Town USA and offers fun new ways for customers to show their support.

Vote on Facebook

Each Facebook user can vote once a day for his or her town. A vote counts as a point, and the town with the most points by the end of Free Tea Day will be named Tea Town USA.

NEW: Enter Photo Challenges on Facebook

McAlister’s will be hosting weekly themed photo challenges on Facebook, and the winning entry will earn large bonus points for his or her town and special prizes for the photographer. Each fan can enter one photo per weekly challenge, and the winners are announced on the Tea Freaks Facebook page.

We’ll be bringing back some of the fan favorites from 2010, along with new photographic missions, so keep an eye out for challenges such as:

•  “Thanks, I Needed That” — Customers submit pictures of themselves delivering McAlister’s refreshing iced tea to folks who really need it this summer: community volunteers, lifeguards, firefighters, etc.

“Pampered Pet” — We’re looking for photos of dogs, cats and any other pets who are thirsting for tea in this revival of last year’s most popular photo challenge.

“Show Off Your Skyline” — Snap a picture of your McAlister’s tea in front of your town’s best skyline, whether that’s a few historic buildings on the courthouse square or towering downtown office buildings.

• And many more…

NEW: Town Pages on Facebook

This year, each town competing for Tea Town USA will have its own section of the contest’s Facebook application. When users search for a town in the voting app, they are directed to a page featuring that town’s current standing, bonus point tallies, photos, special recognition and a link to the local McAlister’s Facebook page.

NEW: Win Town Awards on Facebook

As towns reach certain milestones — 1,000 votes, 100 photo uploads or winning a weekly photo challenge, for example — they are recognized with Town Awards that unlock even more bonus points. These fun new Town Awards give McAlister’s fans and employees even more motivation to stay active in the promotion.

NEW: Check in at McAlister’s from Your Smartphone

To help drive foot traffic and in-store participation, McAlister’s has added a cool new location-based feature for the promotion: bonus points for mobile check-ins. Visitors with smartphones simply have to “check in” from any McAlister’s on the phone’s Facebook application. The customer then receives a message that their check-in has helped support a local charity by winning a bonus point for the town.

NEW: Help a Local Charity Win Big

Instead of going to local park improvements, this year’s Tea Town USA prize money will go to a local nonprofit of the franchisee’s choosing. This can help drive awareness and participation — while also giving you lots of potential volunteers to help rally the troops to your town’s cause.

Share the Contest

One key to the success of Tea Town USA in 2010 was how easily it could be shared with friends. This time around, we’ve made it even simpler to share a link to the contest via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Learn More at TeaTownUSA.com

While most of the action happens on Facebook or in-store, Web surfers can also visit TeaTownUSA.com to learn about the promotion and see the current standings.

Stay up to date with Twitter.com/McAlistersDeli

The McAlister’s Twitter feed will post regular updates about the campaign, such as weekly photo challenges or changes in the town leaderboard.

Get reminders from McAlistersDeli.com and DeliGrams

Visitors to McAlistersDeli.com and subscribers to the DeliGrams email blast will receive regular reminders to vote in Tea Town USA throughout the campaign. These static images will link viewers directly to the Tea Town USA voting application.

What are some of the new challenges in this year’s promotion?  How do they engage your fans and does it influence customer loyalty?

1.      Photo Challenges—encourage guests to send in pictures of their pets, family members, best friends at THEIR McAlister’s.

2.      Check-ins on Facebook Places—guests earn points for their town by coming into McAlister’s and “checking in.” Increases frequency.

We’ve seen very significant comparative growth and increases in sales and Facebook fans since the beginning of the promotion.

On the McAlister’s Facebook page, you used video as an engagement tool for the promotion – what inspired the creation of the video, and why is this a great engagement meathod? 

As a way to “kick-off” the promotion, we thought it’d be fun to not only engage our guests and fans, but our internal team as well!

We are seeing more and more companies embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR).  Tell us about the prize structure for the winning towns, and why McAlister’s has decided to include a CSR strategy as part of the promotion.  Is there value in engaging your customers through CSR?

We felt that last year’s promotion was a big hit because people had more than just town pride or prizes to fight for, they were actually trying to win money for their local parks and rec department. Now, we find that guests are even more engaged with specific non-profits to play for. McAlister’s has always been committed to our local communities, giving back whenever we can, and we’ve always done so on a local level. Our guests know that, and that is why we have such loyal fans.

Read more about McAlister’s Tea Town USA promotion in their recent press release. Read here.

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