GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer Inc. here used a touch of Hollywood glamour in a pet star search contest that generated increased traffic in its pet aisles.
The winners will be appearing in pictures -- at least in Meijer ads for pet products -- after the first of the year.
Meijer, which operates 99 combination supercenters in the Midwest, teamed with two of its vendors -- Thompson's Pet Pasta Products, Kansas City, Kan., and Scoop Away cat litter from A&M Pet, Parsippany, N.J., a division of First Brands, Danbury, Conn. -- for the promotion.
In addition to the starring role in Meijer's ads, first prize consisted of a $250 Meijer gift certificate, two cases of Thompson's Pasta Plus dog food and two cases of Scoop Away. Second and third prizes were a $50 Meijer gift certificate and a case of each product. A 20-pound bag of Thompson's and a 14-pound box of Scoop Away were also awarded at each Meijer store. Prizes were awarded for both dogs and cats.
Officials at Meijer declined to comment about the event, but Donna Blain, a district sales manager at Thompson's, who created the idea and coordinated the event, said it was a blockbuster hit.
"The consumer reaction to the promotion was just great. We got in just under 800 pictures of cats and dogs," she told SN. "The pet supercenters have taken business away from the grocery stores, and I think promotions like this help to draw attention to
the fact that supermarkets are carrying pet products."
Each sponsor also donated to local humane societies a pound of dog food and a pound of cat litter for each entry received. Eight hundred pounds went to the Michigan Humane Society in the Detroit area and 800 pounds went to the Kent County Humane Society here.
Blain said Thompson's and Scoop Away realized an increase in sales as a result of the promotion.
"If we repeat this promotion, I would like to do it in the spring because at this time of the year we were up against Thanksgiving. Meijer had just removed the Halloween endcaps and replaced them with Thanksgiving items. So endcaps and center-aisle displays were at a premium, and we couldn't get them. In the spring we would have a better opportunity at building an endcap display.
"We ended up displaying it in the aisle. We had signs up on the products, barrels with signs on them telling people about the contest. Meijer's has very large ads, and they gave us a good half-page in color," she said.