entourageA popular cable show and a maverick airline: Hot brands launched an even hotter digital marketing campaign, leveraged by SMS.

Entourage–the HBO comedy about a hot Hollywood actor and his surrounding group of helpers and hangers-on–kicked off its fifth season last week. But the show generated buzz a few days beforehand. First, marketers implemented a cross-promotion with the airline Virgin America, which created an “Entourage Class” on all its aircraft–and debuted the new section with a special flight that screened the show’s first new episode.

At the same time, Entourage marketers launched the “Entourage Air–Live It!” sweepstakes, with a grand prize that includes $5,000 cash, four first-class tickets on Virgin America to Las Vegas, a weekend stay in a Palms Casino Resort luxury suite, and other VIP perks like free steak dinners and spa treatments.

To play, consumers must text the keyword “HBO” to the short code 38714. (They can also fill out a Web form at https://www.entourageairliveit.com/Default.aspx.) The SMS portion of the campaign is powered by mobileStorm.

It’s too early to predict the ultimate outcome of the sweepstakes, since it’s open until October 4. (So it’s not too late to send an SMS message for a chance to win!) But midway through the promotion, mobile has already proven itself to be a valuable component of the campaign.

“To date, we have had over 40,000 entries with mobile contributing about 10 percent,” said Joe Grigsby, director of mobile strategy for VML, which created the digital elements for the campaign. “The strength of the mobile channel has been in allowing consumers to take action in entering the sweepstakes immediately at the point of campaign exposure. This has exceeded expectations of user engagement and demonstrated the value of a multi-channel approach.”

If mobile marketing has already exceeded expectations, just imagine how much more they’ll be pleased once they can analyze the data coming in from sweepstakes participants–of which there’s bound to be a lot once the contest ends.

Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm

“I’d rather you text me”