Scholastic, publisher of R.L. Stine’s popular Goosebumps series, has partnered with PepsiCo for a $40-million campaign to promote the children’s book series across several PepsiCo divisions.
The Halloween-themed promotional campaign hits the market September 15 and runs through November 1. It will be supported by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign as well as extensive in-store displays.
Stine has written three original Goosebumps mini-books that will only be available via the promotion. They will be advertising-free, and the storylines won’t feature any PepsiCo products. One will be inserted inside Frito-Lay products. The other two will be available via mail-in coupon offers from soft-drink products and through newspaper inserts from Pepsi’s marketing partner Hershey.
The promotional program is the most extensive and aggressive ever done at the consumer retail level by Scholastic, which figures to distribute over 32 million Goosebumps booklets, according to Mary Sadeghy, director of marketing for Scholastic Productions.
‘Our goal is to take a kids holiday like Halloween, and use that opportunity to communicate literacy and get kids excited about reading,’ says Sadeghy.
Pepsi has been running Halloween promotions with its Frito-Lay division and with Hershey for several years, but was seeking to elevate the campaign by aligning it with a popular kids property. It studied several options, including feature films, licensed characters and new TV shows, before deciding on Goosebumps, not only because it fit thematically with Halloween, but also due to its built-in recognition factor.
‘We think Goosebumps is the best and hottest property for kids,’ says Mark Owens, vice president, Pepsi Entertainment. ‘We feel we’re catching the property at its peak, so we’ve hopefully timed ourselves well on it.’
Goosebumps ranks as one of the most popular children’s book series. Over 130 million copies have been sold since it was first published in 1992. Four million books are shipped to retailers monthly. A TV version airs on Fox.
The in-pack booklets will be available inside large, family-sized Frito-Lay products, such as Doritos, Ruffles and Cheetos. It’s the first time in five years that Frito-Lay has had such a mass quantity of items inserted into its product. Mail-in coupons will be available in large Pepsi bottles and 12- and 24-packs.
Pepsi looks at the promotion as an opportunity to develop a relationship with Scholastic. ‘Goosebumps’ ‘Reading is a Scream’ philosophy parallels nicely with a lot of the educational efforts Pepsi d’es,’ says Owens.
Three hundred thousand copies of the books will be distributed to inner-city kids. Copies will be donated to libraries across the country.
‘It’s incredibly exciting for Scholastic and Parachute Press [which owns the rights to Goosebumps] that we’ll be able to get that many kids to read,’ says Sadeghy.