RALPHS SOWS OUTSIDE ADS TO REAP GREATER COUNTRY FAIR SALES

SAN DIEGO -- Ralphs Grocery Co. is expanding its annual Country Fair summer promotion outside of its stores here, hoping to grab consumers' attention with "high-impact" weekly advertising on bus panels, billboards, posters and in bulletins.Roughly 28 Ralphs units in the San Diego market will participate in the promotion, which the Compton, Calif.-based chain said is the first campaign in the area

SAN DIEGO -- Ralphs Grocery Co. is expanding its annual Country Fair summer promotion outside of its stores here, hoping to grab consumers' attention with "high-impact" weekly advertising on bus panels, billboards, posters and in bulletins.

Roughly 28 Ralphs units in the San Diego market will participate in the promotion, which the Compton, Calif.-based chain said is the first campaign in the area to use outside advertising vehicles for weekly sales on produce items.

"We want this campaign to punch through, so when people pass our boards on the freeway and see a great price on corn this week, and a great price on bananas next week, they'll know that we've really got an exciting event going on," said Jeff Morris, vice president of account services for Heil-Brice Retail Advertising, Newport Beach, Calif., which is handling the promotion for Ralphs.

Because the promotion is so expensive and must be changed from week to week, Ralphs is limiting it to only one market.

"It's a pretty costly proposition," Morris said. "We wanted to start it here and kind of use this as a test. It's exciting. I can't wait to see the results."

The advertising content, created by Ralphs, HBRA and Outdoor Systems, will be coordinated with whatever produce items the chain is putting on the front of its weekly circular.

The Country Fair promotion is Ralphs' annual summertime promotion of fruits and vegetables, during which the 260-store chain advertises the abundant produce available during the summer.

Executives at Ralphs could not be reached for comment.