Best promotion of the year
Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Intergalactic Encounter Tour
National promotions seemed old hat this year as marketers found that going local is the key to blowing kids away. That local presence was key to this U.S. mall tour encompassing 32 markets and over 50 Wal-Mart stores, ensuring that kids got hands-on with a 5,000-square-foot, multiplanet inflatable world. It made kids jump around, it made them love Power Rangers, and it made the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘largest inflatable structure in the world.’
The Rugrats Movie Post Cereal Ticket Giveaway
The promotions community thought it couldn’t be done, but last November, Nick pulled it off: The kids net gave away tickets for free admission to The Rugrats Movie on millions of specially marked boxes of Post’s kids and family cereal brands. It was a great example of how promoters can break the rules without going broke. The power of The Rugrats Movie promotion was evident at the box office too, with receipts topping US$100 million in the U.S. alone.
Best QSR promotion
Burger King’s Teletubbies Kids Club Meal
This May saw one of the Big Two (McDonald’s and Burger King) tie in to a preschool show for the first time, and the promotions community was pacified by the campaign’s success. Nearly 50 million Teletubbies finger-puppet clip-on toy premiums sold out within three and a half weeks, bringing the six-week Teletubbies Kids Club Meal to an abrupt halt. The special Tubby Custard pudding created by JELL-O for the promotion continued to sell through June 20. Parents called to ask for more, more, more, and we expect that more is what we’ll be seeing of tot-targeted QSR promotions.
Best international premium
McDonald’s Teenie Beanie Babies
McDonald’s Teenie Beanie Babies were as big a hit overseas this year as they have been in the U.S. The miniature Beanies were distributed through Happy Meals from April 21 to May 27 in England and Germany. Twelve limited edition Babies, from ‘Bones the Dog’ to ‘Inch the Worm’ were available. Promotions execs said the Babies stuck out in terms of visibility, point of sale and profile. The premiums proved so popular that the promotion ran again this fall in the U.K. until October 15. Probably the most popular Happy Meal premium to date, the Beanie’s future is now uncertain pending Ty’s retirement plans for the end of the year. Please don’t take our Beanies away!
Best traveling promotion
Pokémon’s Wizards of the Coast Mall Tour
Over 50,000 kids showed up at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on a mid-July weekend, and an average of 10,000 kids showed up per weekend at other locations when Pokémon’s Wizards of the Coast mall tour came to town. This multicity promotion gave kids ages eight and up the chance to learn how to play the Wizards Pokémon trading card game, and gave advanced players the chance to compete against each other on-site. Winners were chosen in various categories and the top U.S. players went to Hawaii to play against the best Japanese players. The tour, complete with traveling Pikachu VW bug and giant Pikachu trading card, ends November 13, but the craze continues….
Best retail display
Tic Toc’s Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace Display
Dallas-based Tic Toc created 3-D Phantom Menace mannequin characters to display PepsiCo products in grocery stores and mass retailers across the country. The displays got rave reviews from insiders for their sheer size and the attention-grabbing look, as well as the way they keyed into the essence of the movie.
Hottest retail promotion
Britney Spears Concert Tour Sponsorship
Tommy Hilfiger’s music tie-ins to artists such as Britney Spears, Jewel and last year’s Rolling Stones sponsorship kicked off other high-visibility concert tour signings, including Sears’ sponsorship of the Backstreet Boys tour and Levi Strauss & Co.’s 45-city ‘Levi’s Fuse `99′ tour featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray and Fastball. Tommy milked his sponsorship of Spears’ North American summer tour for all it was worth, plastering Spears all over in-store retail promotions, sweepstakes and radio promotions, plus logging personal appearances by Spears at Tommy Jeans outlets across North America. Britney then starred in a big back-to-school print and TV campaign, which launched last August in teen mags and on MTV, BET and VH1.
Best toy store event
FAO Schwarz’s Bear in the Big Blue House Event
The Bear in the Big Blue House event prompted families to travel from as far away as Cincinnati to meet Bear and sample lots of new Bear merchandise at the New York FAO Schwarz store on Fifth Avenue. The entire store was converted into a 45-foot Big Blue House from September to October. Nearly 20 store windows were decorated with Bear graphics and a seven-foot-tall Bear welcomed visitors in the store. At the mid-September unveiling, kids were invited to a meet-and-greet with Bear, who arrived at the toy giant in a horse-drawn carriage to shoot the breeze with kids and sign autographs as monitors throughout the store played a welcoming video. ‘Once the boutiques were installed, the focus and attention they brought helped us to achieve a very impressive 40% sell-through in our stores nationwide,’ says FAO buyer Marnie Lawrence. Not a growl was heard in the house.
Best Web site with the most promo power
Ever yearn to build your own Flintstones cartoon? This capability and other original content developed for Cartoon Network’s Web site catapulted CartoonNetwork.com to a number-two ranking overall among kid Web sites. Not only that, but Cartoon Network’s on-line collection of original animation, Web Premiere Toons, rose to first place in ‘average time spent on a kid’s Web site,’ with an average of 43 minutes per kid, according to Media Metrix.
Highest octane car tie-in
The Rugrats-Mercury Villager campaign capitalized on recent research findings that kids influence their parents’ car purchases to a startling degree. This fully integrated tie-in to The Rugrats Movie featured in-theater promos, TV spots, magazine ads, Internet ads and tie-ins to 2,600 U.S. Mercury dealers across the country. A sweeps offering families the chance to win a Rugrats-friendly minivan topped off a campaign that has seen at least one other auto maker follow suit with toon tie-in. Last August, General Motors announced the launch of its Warner Bros. edition Chevy Venture featuring Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters.
Best teen promotion
American Eagle Outfitters Dawson’s Creek Tie-in
American Eagle Outfitter’s tie-in with Columbia TriStar Television’s Dawson’s Creek spurred a rise in both entities’ cool quotient, as well as invoking annoyance from former Dawson’s outfitter J. Crew and heaping coal on a lawsuit from Abercrombie & Fitch, which alleged that American Eagle had copied its marketing and advertising. American Eagle’s strategy of outfitting cast members and using the Dawson’s crew in catalogs and advertising caused apparel sales to climb by double digits for each of the first 16 months of the tie-in, providing a great example of how a retailer with its own apparel line can successfully exploit a teen TV brand.
Best on-pack promotion
Bedrock Rocks CD offer
Warner Bros. ‘Bedrock Rocks’ promotion with
Post’s Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereals offered kids more than just another plastic premium and helped Warner Bros. push its new bands too. Aiming to keep the Flintstones profile high with the kid and younger tween markets, Warner Bros. developed a CD for the promo loaded with hot new Warner artists such as Brandy, Cleopatra, All-4-One, F.O.N. and The Knack. Kids sent in an on-pack form to promo partner Kid Rhino (the other co-partner was Maverick Records) to get the coveted tunes. As an added bonus, Fred himself alerted a grand prize winner that she had won a trip to London to have lunch with members of the band Cleopatra by yelling ‘Yabba-Dabba-Doo! You’re a Bedrock Rocks instant winner’ when the winning box of cereal was opened. From August to September, the music-based promotion appeared on around nine million boxes of Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, and 500 portable CD players were given away. Warner Bros. sources say redemption rates were ‘record’ high.
Best cause-related promotion
Nickelodeon’s The Big Help
Nickelodeon’s annual ‘The Big Help’ empowers kids, proving that ‘kids really have genuine concerns about the environment and how to make a difference in the world,’ says Pam Kaufman, VP of marketing promotions at Nickelodeon. The network encourages kids to volunteer in various community activities by pledging hours, not dollars, its motto being ‘share, clean, fix, visit, care, give, do.’ Projects include everything from cleaning up local parks to visiting nursing homes, with the goal of teaching kids to think and act locally to improve the community. Headquartered at Burger King restaurants across the U.S., the ongoing campaign includes print ads and a traveling Big Help Mobile. Nick really brings home the message that when kids share their time, it can have an impact.
Adult-themed campaign with the largest kid following
Austin Powers Virgin Promotion
It’s a little frightening that outdoor advertising pushing Virgin Atlantic’s frequent flights with sexual innuendo such as ‘Five times a day? Yeah, baby!’ hit big with kids, but run-away sales of McFarlane Toys’ Austin Powers doll line at Toys `R’ Us is proof positive that the youth demo grooved to Austin’s beat. Virgin was just one partner in an overall marketing blitz for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me that was audacious, funny, and brought pop culture sizzle to all the brands associated with it. The only complication was a minor uproar when parents found out that talking Austin dolls sold at TRU added ‘shagging’ to some kids’ vocabularies, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Highest logo visibility
Nickelodeon/McDonald’s Millennium Clock
An ingenious way to have logos pop up every time kids log onto their computers was devised by Nickelodeon and McDonald’s for their Nickellennium millennium countdown clock campaign. Kids visit Nick’s site (www.nick.com) and download the clock, which prominently features both the Nick and McDonald’s logos, onto their desktop. Each month, a more current version has to be downloaded, as the countdown to the Nickellennium event continues. McDonald’s will distribute wish bags for children to blow their wishes into on December 31, 1999 and pop at New Year’s, when 24 hours of commercial-free interviews featuring 2,000 kids from around the world talking about their hopes for the new millennium will begin. No wonder parents are getting more requests for trips to McDonald’s!
Hottest new tie-in opportunity
RocketTalk Voice Messaging Software
Fullerton, California’s RocketTalk (www.rockettalk.com) debuted a much buzzed-about new service earlier this year that allows customers to record and send audio messages over the Internet to anyone with an e-mail account-for free. Voice messaging software is a much more human way to communicate with kids-and a brand new tool for marketers who want their messages to be up close and personal.
Best on-line promotion for an entertainment product
Web site for The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project Web site (www.blairwitch.com) gathered momentum for the property months before its July 16 theatrical release, thanks to the buzz-generating, backstory-type lore devised by co-writer/co-director Ed Sanchez, who originally developed the site. Foregoing the usual thinly disguised film advertisements, the site provided a historical timeline, photographs, biographies and additional background material that tied in with a Sci Fi Channel doc on the picture. The formula had teens completely hooked by the film’s box-office-topping opening weekend.
All press is good press award
Gadget Happy Meal
McDonald’s Inspector Gadget Happy Meal toy innovation, which required eight premiums to complete a larger connectable toy, got press on how difficult it was to collect all of them, prompting McDonald’s to supply Gadget part order forms at the close of the promo. When fulfillment problems make it to the All-News airwaves because frustrated kids are unable to complete your 15-inch tall ‘Gadget Man,’ your promotion sure got a lot of attention!
Most ubiquitous campaign
Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace
With truckloads of consumer press coverage and tie-in brands including Hasbro, Pepsi, Frito-Lay and many others, Lucasfilm’s Phantom Menace was everywhere. The bright side of the promotional blitz was that all partners chosen had to have the capability to link to the Star Wars Web site, strengthening the cohesive on-line component of the campaign. The downside was Tricon’s decision to educate the public about the fact that its three restaurant chains (Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell) were all owned by the same company. Joe Public may care a lot about Luke Skywalker, but alerting him to fast food conglomerates did nothing to enhance any of the brands involved. Thankfully, the chihuahua was funny.