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Blog: Meet These High-Tech Grannies

CHICAGO — The dots are connecting. As people get used to any number of digital disruptors—in this case, mobile ordering and Uber deliveries—the inventive ideas move from napkin scribbles to mini picket-fenced homes on wheels, meandering through Chicago streets.

This past Sunday, a Johnsonville-branded sausage promotion tied meal deliveries to Uber apps. The Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based company’s Sausage Nonnas delivered meals prepared from their own sausage recipes, including sausage rigatoni, lasagna and Italian sausage and meatballs.

Uber drivers took the grandmas through downtown Chicago streets in customized, mobile “Nonna homes,” with local residents able to request meals through the Uber app by selecting the Nonnas option on the home screen. Customers could track the delivery as the mini-house vehicles got closer.

Ryan Pociask, senior director of marketing at Johnsonville, praised the unique family perspective of the promotion and emphasized its authenticity. “Having … Italian Nonnas cook and deliver those meals raises the bar to a whole new level,” he said.

“Uber is always on the lookout for fun and unique partnerships that delight our users,” said Amy Friedlander Hoffman, head of experiential marketing at the San Francisco-based Uber. “How better to bring joy to Chicago than delivering warm, personable Italian grandmas in tiny homes with free, home-cooked meals on demand?”

Whether or not the effort will become a routine marketing strategy for either company (or copycats for that matter), the connections are evident. For Johnsonville, awareness, customer engagement and the halo of appearing tech savvy are a few of the more obvious benefits, but down the line, concepts including a more direct relationship with their customers and the idea of being able to tie marketing dollars to actual people—a concept called “attribution” seem even more desirable goals.

For Uber, its evolution into a hot-meal delivery service only gets stronger with such partnerships.

In the end, the race to disruption is only speeding up. As tech-based delivery systems become more accessible and consumers wake up to the potential of their mobile phones, the “dots,” as it were, just get bigger and the lines connecting them in turn become more and more obvious.

As a new promotion, sausage-maker Johnsonville teamed up with Uber to give Chicago residents home-meal delivery.

Angel Abcede, author for the Mobile 2 Go blog, has written about convenience-store technology for more than 20 years and is senior editor at CSP magazine.

Angel Abcede


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