CHICAGO -- Brand marketers can effectively use national events customized to the individual retailer as a vehicle to build sales, according to officials from Nestle and one of its advertising agencies.
"There is a belief that national promotions are on the wane. But if you do a national promotion properly, and provide the flexibility at retail, it can still be a very effective and leverageable marketing tool," said Ken Barnett, executive vice president and general manager of Mars Advertising, Southfield, Mich.
"National promotions have a purpose in the retail world today. There are many times and reasons that national promotions still make all the sense in the world," he said.
Barnett and James Griffin, category director for Nestle's Friskies Petcare Co. subsidiary in Glendale, Calif., spoke here at a conference on creative promotions at retail. It was sponsored by The Marketing Institute, a division of the Institute for International Research.
Barnett said that marketers have to tailor national and regional promotions according to the retailer's pricing format, merchandising style, competitive environment and the demographic profiles of its customers.
"The program must be flexible enough in its application to facilitate the needs of all the retailers, their formats and their retailing strategies. It need not always separate them from the competitor, but it must always be sensitive to their retail needs," he said.
"A promotion on big 25-pound bags of dog food is not going to work in Manhattan because people don't have cars or room in their apartments to carry and store such items," he added.
Griffin said that Nestle has gotten a "huge" reception from retailers for its promotion in conjunction with Disney's "The Lion King" animated feature, which is shaping up to be the blockbuster hit of the summer.
The promotion involves Nestle's food, beverage and frozen foods divisions, and includes massive displays and a four-foot stuffed lion that will be awarded by each store.
"We're placing lions in 12,000 stores across America. To participate in the in-store sweepstakes, each store had to purchase approximately 300 to 400 incremental cases of Nestle products and build a display," said Barnett.
"This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of doing co-marketing with customers," added Griffin.
The promotion was tailored to individual stores. For example, PetSmart ordered two pallets of 25-pound dry food, 10 cases of 22-ounce cans, point-of-purchase cardboard cutouts, one lion and two lithographs for each of its 165 stores. Wal-Mart Supercenters agreed to the promotion, qualifying for one lion for each of its 109 stores by purchasing huge incremental quantities from all three Nestle divisions. Wal-Mart has five endcap displays that portray a huge Nestle presentation in each store.
"Ideally, the display will sell down, the movie will be hot and the stores will order extra incremental cases to maintain the display," said Barnett.
Griffin also discussed a successful campaign involving the Friskies division and Fancy Feast upscale cat food. Although it costs the same as other cat foods, Fancy Feast is packaged in 3-ounce cans, while the rest of the industry uses 6-ounce cans. Fancy Feast is advertised via television commercials starring SHIII, the big, fat, fluffy, white cat that feasts on Fancy Feast whenever the dinner bell is rung.
"We spent millions and millions of dollars over 10 years creating the image on this brand. The last thing that we want to do is to tie in with the Grand Prix at Long Beach and have SHIII make a guest appearance," Griffin said.
"The Fancy Feast customer is very affluent with a $60,000 plus income. We decided to do a promotion to help the cats in the shelters. We put up donation bins in the stores with a sign that said if you buy Fancy Feast and put a can in the bin we will match it and donate it to a local shelter because every cat deserves the best."
The bins were customized with the store's logo and featured a picture of SHIII, and Friskies created a network of support for sales to coordinate all shipments, placement, collection and coordination at retail.