Soapy Joe’s car wash famously claims to love our members, and our 2021 “Propose at Soapy Joe’s” promotion is proof positive that our customers love us right back. The sophomore Valentine’s Day effort, following the company’s inaugural 2020 Tunnel of Love wedding that saw 10 couples marry at the car wash, connected with the community, who one year into the pandemic, had endured enough delay and disruption to their wedding plans. In a pandemic-friendly spin on the wedding theme, we invited couples to propose in any of Soapy Joe’s car wash tunnels, video it, and post with the chance to win $10,000 and wedding rings supplied by a local luxury jeweler. The campaign kicked off on Valentine’s Day 2021 and captured the imagination of our community to spread love during a difficult time. Our objectives for this campaign were to drive engagement on our social media channels, acquire new social followers, and stimulate user generated content, all while creating a safe promotion that respected social distancing and masking requirements. With these in mind, we set out to create another memorable experience and earn our spot as the community’s most beloved car wash. Showing us they were ready to get on with love and life, and have some “good, clean, fun”, couples responded en masse, and fans voted by the thousands.
Our strategy for the Propose at Soapy Joe’s promotion was to combine two key components: member love and our previous success with social media voting campaigns. With these two elements as the backplane, our goal ultimately was to create a never-seen-before experience that created engagement and media attention. To generate awareness and participation, we leveraged our internal database, social channels and on-site point-of-purchase (POP) materials. Emails, posts, and POP directed users to a web page with contest rules, partner information and entry forms. The winners were selected by the public on social media via voting. Engaging with multiple local lifestyle influencers extended our reach, and allowed for organic dialogue with relevant audiences in San Diego. The high-end association with our jewelry partner, Honey Jewelry Co, Ashley Nell Tipton, winner of Project Runway Season 14, and San Diego lifestyle maven Belanoia, gave a wedding-worthy boost to our already sparkling reputation. In addition to the proposal contest, we presented a limited edition Soapy Joe’s air freshener, which our community actively collects, and offered free car wash upgrades to members on Valentine’s Day.
To participate, we asked the community to take a video of their marriage proposal in our car wash tunnel, submit the video on our website, and share it on their own social media account, tagging our company’s Instagram account. Each video was required to be filmed in the participant’s car while it was in the car wash tunnel, with one of our company’s air fresheners clearly visible in the frame. The winning couple was decided by social media vote and took home $10,000 and two wedding rings. Each participant received a free year of car washes and was offered our mascot as the ring bearer for their future wedding.
To add additional excitement and reach to this year’s Tunnel of Love, we partnered with another local San Diego business, Honey Jewelry Co., who provided the winning couple with wedding rings valued up to $3,500. Partnering with a local business and local influencer was a conscious decision, as during the pandemic we wanted to specifically support local entrepreneurs and workers.
To further include members of the wash club beyond voting, we provided free upgrades to our top-tier Magic Joe Wash and distributed limited edition Valentine’s Day “Love” air fresheners. Finally, we checked in with the 10 couples who got married at our 2020 Tunnel of Love community wedding at our Imperial Beach location. Many shared how they are doing, including poignant stories of adjusting to new love during quarantine, new babies welcomed, and even loss during the pandemic. Our alums gave updates featured on a blog post about their first year of marriage for our loyal community members who have been following along.
The Soapy Joe’s team was overjoyed to receive an invitation to the May, 2022 wedding of a participating couple, and many consider it a highlight of their career to stimulate such deep connection between brand and community.
The campaign was successful across all metrics, and most critically, was well received from our membership base. Ultimately 10 couples shared qualifying proposal videos on social media and submitted to our contest. A few non-qualifying videos captured our hearts as well, such as a man faux-proposing to his loyal puppy companion. Other notable entries represented inclusion of the LGBTQ community, an in-car ring scavenger hunt, and a recommitment proposal that drew a snappy, “I’m eating my Popeye’s sandwich!” reply from an unsuspecting wife. (Seizing the opportunity, our team reshared and tagged @popeyes, for additional reach to their audience of 440K.) After voting closed, 3,215 unique voters cast 6,528 votes and decided the winning couple: Vivian and Ronnie! YouTube views topped 4,300 and influencer reach topped a quarter-million unique followers. The campaign garnered 21 media hits across digital, TV and radio platforms, including two hits outside our local market. Members receiving free wash upgrades numbered 34,874 with hundreds of thousands scoring the LTO “love” theme air freshener.
Through Propose at Soapy Joe’s, we have created solid relationships, as well as contributed to increased brand awareness, as demonstrated by Soapy Joe’s 12-point gain in awareness from 2019 to 2021 and market-leader position with 10-times the awareness of our next closest competitor. With all of the buzz that our campaign generated, we can confidently say we achieved the program objectives during a challenging pandemic year that gave the community an extra bit of love when it needed it the most.