• The SMART Points initiative with Hy-Vee tied product sales with improving education.
• Additional points were awarded to participants who purchased products from both Sara Lee and P&G.
• Sponsors invested in schools and students in under served communities.
Technology is often one of the first items to be cut from school budgets during economic downturns, and the recent recession was no exception. As a retailer priding itself on community service, Hy-Vee Food Stores moved to help lessen the burden by participating in an initiative that awards equipment to schools.
Hy-Vee partnered with Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee in the SMART Points program, which ran from September through November last year and has been renewed again for 2012. SMART Points allows customers to vote for their favorite schools in an effort to win prizes for those schools and for students.
Under last year's program, shoppers earned points by purchasing $20 or more of P&G products at any Hy-Vee, which they could then donate to a school of their choosing. If they purchased $5 or more worth of Sara Lee bakery products in the same trip, their points were doubled. At the end of the promotion, scores were tallied and the top school affiliated with each store received a SMART Board system, a high-tech replacement for traditional blackboards valued at $1,500. Meanwhile, shoppers who individually donated the most points per Hy-Vee received a MacBook laptop computer for their child.
For Hy-Vee, the program was a natural outgrowth of its community efforts.
“Hy-Vee is committed to building a brighter future for the children in the communities we serve,” said Jon Wendel, executive vice president of supply chain and marketing for Hy-Vee. “Thanks to the SMART Points program, as well as the generosity of our partners Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee, thousands of students now have access to some of the best learning tools available.”
The program was a natural fit as well for Sara Lee, which for the past 30 years has aided education through its philanthropic arm, the Sara Lee Foundation.
P&G, meanwhile, is focused on reducing school dropout rates through its GIVE Education initiative. An extension of its GIVE corporate umbrella program, the new venture issues special brandSAVER coupons for P&G products and donates 2 cents for each coupon used to Communities In Schools, an organization that works to increase graduation rates.
“By focusing our social investments on improving life for children and youth, P&G and our brands are able to focus our attention on an area that is critically important,” said Jim Leish, P&G's director of U.S. Operations for North America.
To support the SMART Points campaign and promote P&G and Sara Lee products, Hy-Vee along with Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, the agency that coordinated the program, utilized numerous promotional avenues.
To reach consumers online, Hy-Vee posted messages on its Facebook page and sent emails to customers registered on the SMART Points website. Likewise, participating schools like Anderson Grove Elementary in Bellevue, Neb., established their own Facebook pages encouraging people to buy P&G and Sara Lee products, and to vote for their school.
“Here's your shopping list!” it stated, listing numerous P&G brands like Cascade and Dawn.
The program also mobilized schools by handing out awareness kits that included posters and letter templates for parents. In addition, Hy-Vee promoted SMART Points with in-store sales material and through placements in its weekly circular.
Ryan Sullivan, director of retailer marketing at Blue Chip, said awareness of the program, now in its third year, has reached a point where it's anticipated by schools eager to win a SMART board and the kids, who will now be awarded an Apple iPad instead of a laptop.
“We know schools are looking forward to it because they're contacting Hy-Vee stores asking when it's going to be, because it's about rallying the parents to get involved,” he said.
The campaign is designed to give Hy-Vee the encore. Blue Chip notifies store managers of the winning schools and allows the retailer to make the call, as well as present the prizes. It's a detail that plants a lasting impression and helps reinforce loyalty.
“The managers get to drive the SMART boards to the schools, and lots of times there's a big assembly in the auditorium, they wheel it out and the kids go crazy,” said Ryan. “It's really cool how Hy-Vee is positioned to be the hero in the community.”