Saban challenges Wal-Mart staff to displayathon

Retailer: Wal-Mart...
August 1, 1999

Retailer: Wal-Mart

Promotion: Back-to-school Power Rangers Display Contest

Number of participating stores:

approximately 2,500

Length of Promotion: one month

This month, Saban Licensing and Wal-Mart will launch a rather curious in-store promotion for Power Rangers at Wal-Mart’s 2,500 locations-curious because it lacks the hallmarks that most readily identify a retail promotion. There are no gift-with-purchases, no sweepstakes and no product exclusives. Nevertheless, both companies are confident their Back-to-School Power Rangers Display Contest promo indeed qualifies as one, and will meet its twin goals of increasing customer traffic and driving sales of licensed Power Rangers product.

The contest invites all Wal-Mart stores to create the best cross-merchandised displays using Power Rangers signage and licensed Power Rangers merch, including toys, videos, apparel and accessories. Store managers are encouraged to follow their display-building muse, and are free to incorporate video, audio and other multimedia and interactive elements. The scale of the displays will also be left up to each manager. The more grandiose the better. Participating stores need to submit a form describing the components of their displays, as well as a photo of their creations to Wal-Mart corporate headquarters, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, which, along with Saban Licensing, will judge the submissions for their creativity and innovation. In early September, six stores will be selected as winners each receiving a modest cash prize. Wal-Mart will promote the contest through in-store signage and in-store radio spots.

Why use a largely employee incentive-laden initiative to draw consumers instead of the tried-but-true promotional lures of discounts and gratis tchotchkes? For Wal-Mart, it comes down to a question of retailing philosophy.

‘Those are the kinds of promotions we try to stay away from,’ says Randy Hughes, licensing marketing manager at Wal-Mart. ‘We want our consumers to know that day in day out we have the lowest prices, so that they don’t have to look for the special gift-with-purchase item or discount in order to have a reason to shop at Wal-Mart.

‘The contest helps us create excitement at the store level, with employees, and with consumers who will get to see the new displays when they come in,’ says Hughes.

To Saban, the contest provides it with an increased national presence for its Power Rangers franchise at Wal-Mart during the crucial back-to-school month of August, says Elie Dekel, executive VP of consumer products and promotions at the company.

It also complements its Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Intergalactic Encounter Tour, the company’s latest traveling retail entertainment extravaganza, which has been criss-crossing Wal-Mart locations in the U.S. since last March in support of Saban’s latest Power Rangers TV progeny. The tour, which boasts inflatable planets and in-store appearances from Power Rangers characters and Bandai-Yomega Yo-Yo professionals, has proven a major success on a local level. According to Dekel, same-store sales of Power Rangers toys jumped 400% during the week that the select Wal-Mart locations hosted the tour. But at a total cost that Dekel says resides ‘somewhere in the neighborhood of seven figures,’ the tour which would have hit 55 cities by the time it wraps in October, was too

expensive to carry off at every location.

That Wal-Mart had used a form of the contest for previous properties (most recently with Barney in July) made it easier for Saban to propose the less costly Power Rangers Display Contest.

‘We know through our relationship with Wal-Mart that there are certain tactics that work well within their system. The Wal-Mart employee base takes great pride in what they do, and giving them a national stage on which to do that works well,’ says Dekel.

The six winning Wal-Mart stores will be able to use their cash prizes to buy new product or other promotional initiatives as they see fit, says Dekel. ‘We’d hope the winners would spend the money on the merchandise that won them the prize,’ he adds ‘but we’ve put no such stipulation on the contest.’

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