Pilot Travel Centers uses social media to promote its coffee

KNOXVILLE, TN: Pilot Travel Centers launched its social media presence on December 29, introducing a new awareness campaign around the tagline "best coffee on the interstate."

KNOXVILLE, TN: Pilot Travel Centers launched its social media presence on December 29, introducing a new awareness campaign around the tagline "best coffee on the interstate." The campaign, with a focus on customer service, includes Facebook and Twitter outreach, traditional media relations, and advertising on site and on Pilot's tanker trucks.

"We've not had a presence in the social media world ever in the past," said Tim Purcell, director of merchandising for Pilot Travel Centers. "You'll see a lot of people using it to build fan bases and that's not really the direction we're going with it. Our intent originally, and still, is to use that as a broad-base platform to talk to our customers and specifically listen to them and get to know them better."

Pilot operates more than 300 locations nationwide and reported revenues of $16 billion in 2008.

Working with its AOR Tennessee-based Moxley Carmichael, Pilot found that customers enjoy its coffee, and decided to focus the campaign around that fact. Online, customers can take polls, get coupons, and hear news about the brand. The campaign is ongoing and also promotes new premium teas available at Pilot locations.

"People, if they are local, and they have a Pilot Travel Center near them, they may not know that we have great coffee, they might just see it as a travel stop or a truck stop," explained Lynsay Caylor, social media marketing manager for Pilot. "We're getting out the message that we're more than that."

"Hopefully we can drive people from the social media technology inside the building," Purcell added, "and from the building back to the social media technology."

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