RETAILERS STAGE MAJOR 'ALADDIN' PROMOTIONS

Cincinnati -- In what some observers said was the biggest video promotion of the year built around a single title, Kroger, Ralphs, King Soopers, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Meijer, Ahold, Safeway and H.E. Butt, among others, all participated in promotions tied to the first DVD release of Disney's "Aladdin."The promotions tied a number of grocery brands to sales of the DVD, but details varied from chain

Cincinnati -- In what some observers said was the biggest video promotion of the year built around a single title, Kroger, Ralphs, King Soopers, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Meijer, Ahold, Safeway and H.E. Butt, among others, all participated in promotions tied to the first DVD release of Disney's "Aladdin."

The promotions tied a number of grocery brands to sales of the DVD, but details varied from chain to chain, according to industry sources and company circulars. Kroger and Albertsons gave the promotions the heaviest emphasis, according to industry sources. Kroger declined to comment for the story. Albertsons did not return calls seeking comment.

The promotion was available from Oct. 5 to 16. Some elements of the promotion were available the week prior to the DVD release on Oct. 5 to drum up awareness for the release, said Scott Guthrie, vice president of sales and channel development, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Burbank, Calif.

While the movie release was tied to national programs with some grocery companies and programs in other retail channels like Best Buy, Minneapolis, where a free plush toy was given to consumers, Guthrie said the supermarket programs were the most extensive.

"The best consumer programs we had were in the grocery channel. I don't think you could match Kroger's or Albertsons' programs. It's a tremendous value when you walk away with $10 or $11 worth of goods," Guthrie said. Observers noted this savings far surpassed the loss-leader pricing differential of the mass merchants on the same title. Kroger circulars in many marketing areas featured the consumer offer at the center of the promotion to receive one of five items free with a club card purchase of the special-edition "Aladdin" DVD or VHS, which sold for $19.99. Products included in the promotion were a free three-pack of Orville Redenbacher popcorn, a free six-pack of Kool-Aid Bursts, a free box of Barnum Animal Crackers, a free Oral-B toothbrush, or a free box of Kleenex tissues. Kleenex and Oral-B have licensed "Aladdin" products as well, but the offer was not limited to those items.

The promotion included a number of different elements. In the weeks leading up to the release, "Aladdin" graphics were printed on 40 million grocery bags for Kroger; consumer offers were printed on bags for Ralphs and King Soopers; themed ads were put on the grocery checkstand dividers at all participating grocery chains, Guthrie said.

At Fred Meyer, the program was the same as other Kroger divisions, but a free "Aladdin" T-shirt with the video purchase was added.

At Albertsons, purchase of the "Aladdin" DVD or VHS qualified consumers to receive four free items: a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola, Jolly Time Popcorn, an Oral-B toothbrush and Huggies travel-sized baby wipes.

Consumers who bought the movie at Meijer got a free three-pack of Jolly Time Popcorn, a free box of Kleenex, a free Oral-B toothbrush, and a free box of small Kellogg's Corn Flakes, said Guthrie.

Safeway customers got a free package of Keebler Chips Deluxe Cookies; two, free two-liters of Coca-Cola products; and a free package of Jolly Time Popcorn with purchase of "Aladdin." At H-E-B, customers were eligible to receive a free two-liter bottle of soda and Jolly Time Popcorn.

Buena Vista ran a promotion of a similar scale to coincide with the DVD release of "The Lion King" last fall with Kroger. This year's program was simplified for consumers, Guthrie said.

During "The Lion King" promotion, a point system was in effect. This year, there was no accumulation of points; a purchase qualified consumers automatically for the grocery items involved in the promotion, he said.

Although a smaller title than "Lion King," "Aladdin" is expected to do about $150 million at retail, Guthrie said.

"We thought there was a huge opportunity, and there still remains a huge opportunity, for this type of title in this class of trade. There was great value."

Buena Vista will release "Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas" this November, supported by a similar promotional push that will include Albertsons and some Kroger banners, Guthrie said.