There are many ways in which the movers and shakers of sales promotion can take their chosen field into the future. Use of new technology is one method; applications of databases, development of smart cards and EPOS systems are also becoming increasingly common.
However, the most sophisticated of sales promotion agencies are looking to integrate their discipline more effectively with other marketing processes. Promotions often link with product design, direct mailings, advertising and even conference and exhibition arrangements in a way that would have seemed incredible just a short while ago.
Niche marketing is of course a general trend and all marketers pay lip-service to the need to target consumers and build relationships with customers more carefully than previously. But in sales promotion, long seen as the poor relation of marketing, the opportunities are great – especially as the below-the-line disciplines merge – and the rewards, particularly in terms of increased client confidence, are substantial.
Confectionery manufacturer Trebor Bassett has in the past few years tried hard to integrate its marketing functions, investing time and money in linked campaigns in which sales promotion plays an important part.
Trebor’s leading brands include Trebor Extra Strong Mints, Soft Mints, Maynards Original Wine Gums, Maynards Just Fruits, Barratt Refreshers and Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies. It has also just launched a soft fruity chew product called Fruitang.
The work for Fruitang demonstrates Trebor’s willingness to develop integrated packages for its brands. A mix of sampling and trade and consumer promotions all take their lead from the “world of the strange” ads through WCRS. These feature TV personalities Trevor and Simon and emphasise the “ang” in the product, the “intangible force” that is present in Fruitang. The trade promotion picks up on this by informing retailers that, thanks to the point-of-sale and sampling programmes, the product “won’t ‘ang’ around”.
The aim is to turn Fruitang into a cult product. But Trebor takes a more conventional approach to mainstream brands. Last autumn, Trebor developed a promotion to support the TV ads for its core Maynards Original Wine Gums brand. The commercials – through BMP – featured a mad Scotsman in a baronial hall insisting there was “juice” waiting to be “set loose” from the sweets.
Promotional agency BDP was asked to make the ad work harder without substantially increasing the budget. The result was a radio promotion on radio station Atlantic 252, called the Daily Free Money Hit. A promotional ad was played several times a day, featuring the mad Scotsman theme. Listeners were encouraged to wait for a particular record – or trigger track – and then call the radio station and say a pre-determined phrase. Every 252nd caller won 1,000. An automated call-handling facility allowed for a higher number of calls than would otherwise have been possible for the station to accept, and the whole campaign generated a ratecard equivalent of 500,000-worth of coverage.
Earlier this year, Trebor developed a campaign with TV rather than radio links, this time for its Refreshers brand. In 1994 a previous promotion, through agency Tequila, had required a decoder to facilitate the instant-win mechanism on the pack.
This year Trebor decide to emphasise the fizzy nature of the product and to this end played on the fizzical/physical association through a summertime link with TV show Gladiators. In an instant-win promotion, certain packs of refreshers offered a ticket to the Gladiators party, while others offered free merchandise such as T-shirts and baseball caps. This promotion was supported by point-of-sale material and an advertising campaign in children’s press.
Perhaps Trebor’s most adventurous promotional work was for its leading brand, Extra Strong Mints. Research shows most mints are eaten on the move with a very high proportion purchased in garage forecourts. In 1993 Trebor developed an on-pack promotion allowing purchasers to exchange their product wrapper for 1 off a meal at Little Chef. Participants could use one wrapper for every 4 spent. A regional press campaign supported the promotion with a list of nearby Little Chef branches, and results showed that in areas which had regional press support, redemption rates were higher than in other areas by 30 per cent.
Later the same year Trebor linked up with Atlantic 252 in another on-pack promotion that offered purchasers the chance to receive a free compilation tape of typical 252 programming. In exchange for the on-pack coverage, Atlantic backed the campaign with 1m. This included three months of radio ads promoting the tape and the 5,000 Trebor Triple Play.
Listeners were asked to call in when they heard three pre-arranged tracks played in the right order, and say the “phrase that pays” which, in this case was “I listen to Long Wave Radio Atlantic 252 with Trebor Extra Strong Mints”. The competition generated 900,000 calls over three months, during which there were six giveaways of 5,000.
The Mintal Challenge – developed in 1994 – was a popular and far-reaching promotion which played on the Mintal/mental word association and stressed the mints’ invigorating properties. BDP was asked to reinforce these mintal attributes with a series of promotions as a support for the TV ad which was already running. This showed a man creeping home late at night and trying to undress quietly so as not to wake up his wife. As she wakes up, the man, invigorated by an Extra Strong Mint, thinks quickly of a way to cover his tracks and declares that he is getting dressed to go to work.
An on-pack promotion featured a quiz inside the wrapper asking purchasers to rank five named famous sports people in the order they thought a panel of experts would choose. Entrants with a touch-tone phone could dial in their choice immediately; others could send it in by post. Those whose choices coincided with the experts’ received a 10 cheque once they had sent in their wrapper.
A slightly different version of the competition, involving more questions, was flagged in CTNs through point-of-sale postboxes and leaflets.
Between July and September 1994 the Mintal Challenge ran as a breakfast show promotion on Virgin Radio. The presenters asked a series of five questions at 8.15am; callers chosen to answer on air would move through the increasingly difficult questions, able to win more money with each correct answer, but liable to lose the lot with a wrong one. The jackpot prize was potentially 10,000 each day, the first four questions netting a successful caller 10, 50, 100 and 1,000 respectively.
This year Trebor decided to shift its emphasis from the mental to the physical associations of the brand. Previous promotions had fitted in with the Extra Strong Mints core market of 25 to 44-year-old males. The latest promotion, Man in Space, offered the opportunity for seven winners to fly to Moscow and be taken for a ride in one of the world’s most advanced fighter planes – the Sukhoi Su-27.
BDP organised the promotion. Managing director Chris Knight says: “This promotion was designed to appeal to young men as a one-off experience, something they would never be able to do again.”
Extra Strong Mints purchasers were invited to look for a mint with a red star on it. Meanwhile, point-of-sale leaflets in more than 15,000 retail outlets asked consumers to send in the answer to a simple question; a prize draw mechanic found the winner. A further trip was won by an Atlantic 252 listener who had bought his or her mints at a Shell Select forecourt site.
Apart from the specific promotional campaigns that Trebor has organised, the company has moved increasingly into cost-effective mass-samplings through stronger links with the regional press. Trebor is able to sample more than 90 per cent of a paper’s circulation either in the shop or through home deliveries.
Each retailer, on day one of a promotion flagging a free tube or pack of sweets on the front cover, will be given as many extra copies of the paper and rolls of sweets as the paper estimates it will sell. With home-delivered papers, readers can bring a coupon cut from the paper into their local newsagent to claim their free sweets.
Trebor looks likely to build on the success of its previous campaigns with new and inventive promotions – including one early next year for Liquorice Allsorts – well into the future.