MINYARD SODA PROMOTION BOOSTS STOREWIDE SALES

COPPELL, Texas -- Minyard Food Stores boosted total store sales 3.5% with a major soft drink promotion that integrated a sweepstakes and mass display contest.The chain, based here, teamed up with Coca-Cola Co. and a local television station for the promotion. The sweepstakes culminated with a grand prize worth more than $170,000, including a $135,000 custom-built home, an Olympic-size pool and a 1994

COPPELL, Texas -- Minyard Food Stores boosted total store sales 3.5% with a major soft drink promotion that integrated a sweepstakes and mass display contest.

The chain, based here, teamed up with Coca-Cola Co. and a local television station for the promotion. The sweepstakes culminated with a grand prize worth more than $170,000, including a $135,000 custom-built home, an Olympic-size pool and a 1994 Jeep Cherokee package. The promotion took place at all 78 Minyard, Sack 'n Save and Carnival Food Stores.

The Great American Dream Home Sweepstakes promotion also included daily awards of $1,000 grocery shopping sprees, announced nightly on Paramount's KTXA Channel 21 during the 7 to 9 p.m. prime time period.

In the display building contest, store managers were eligible to win prizes of a monthly mortgage payment of up to $1,000 for the best lobby and endcap displays, second prizes of $500 Macy's or Home Depot gift certificates and third prizes of $250 Macy's or Home Depot gift certificates.

The Dream Home sweepstakes contest was the most successful in Minyard's history, according to Debbie Ellis, Minyard's public relations coordinator.

"Sales were up 3.5% during the promotion, compared to the same period last year," Ellis said.

"We couldn't have been more happy about it. It was the first time we did a watch and win and it was real successful. We had more people enter this contest than ever, with more than 3 million entry blanks. We have 1 million customers a week, so over a six-week time period that means that half of our customers entered," she said.

Ellis said Minyard will focus on a busy schedule of promotions to increase store traffic and sales.

"Our mode right now is to inundate our customers with promotion after promotion. Every five or six weeks, we will hit with another promotion, giving away something unique. But once you get on a roll like that it is a challenge to come up with something different," she said.

The chain's spokeswoman said the display contest proved essential to the promotion's effectiveness. "The reason we created the display contest is because it sells the product, and also gets the customers to sign up for the contest. The winning display literally built a house out of lumber and Coca-Cola.

"We also heavily supported the sweepstakes with full-page breaking newspaper ads, and heavy promotion on the Paramount station and special spots on radio that we ran all over the place. Also, the entire stores were all decked out in signage. We had signs everywhere you looked," Ellis said.

"We wanted to be the first with a home sweepstakes. No one has given away a home package like this, especially a food retailer," she explained, adding that $135,000 buys a "very nice home" in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The promotion was timed for April 17 to May 25, which was the local TV channel's May Sweeps period. Registration cards were collected from all of Minyard's stores, and Channel 21 picked several winners and put their names on the screen. If a viewer saw his name on TV he would call in and win a $1,000 grocery shopping spree.

Ellis said that Coca-Cola often participates with Minyard in its major promotions. A current promotion is called Tour the Ballparks with the Texas Rangers, which ties into the new Ranger Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. The promotion has grand prize tickets for two to Ranger games in Toronto, New York, Baltimore and Oakland, along with tickets to a luxury suite.