Kids love free stuff and kids love receiving mail. Put this together and you’ve got one of the newest supermarket-based marketing programs in the U.S.
Launched last August, the BrandAid free postcard initiative lets advertisers hit their demo by reaching and influencing at the point of purchase. The set-up is a display, located in the front section of the grocery stores, containing a mosaic of 26 eye-catching postcards. Each card is designed around the personality of the brand and acts as a miniature billboard. ‘It’s something attractive, fun and free that appeals directly to a supermarket shopper’s psyche,’ says J.R. Badian, CEO and founder of New York-based BrandAid Communications.
But how does this reach kids? Simple. Kids usually tag along to the supermarket with their parents. They see the free colorful cards, want them and take them home. Children collect the cards for trading, mail them to their friends or just hold on to them as keepsakes. And the advertising images featured on the postcards build and solidify brand recognition with the wee purchase influencers.
Often overwhelmed by aggressive advertising, consumers seem to respond well to being able to choose their own brand messages. BrandAid’s tracking stats show that consumers pick up 90% of all cards displayed in each monthly cycle.
The front-of-store placement guarantees a compelling visual presence. Supermarket traffic allows for 22.5 million impressions per cycle, delivering 22,500 impressions per store per week. With an average 90,000 transactions in each supermarket per month, the cards have an extremely high reach. The company claims ‘it takes your ad dollars and puts them in the hands of consumers.’
The BrandAid program rate is US$60,000 for one month (at six cents for one million cards), and it’s installed in 1,140 stores. Each display unit holds 200 cards per slot, and each advertiser gets a distribution of 1,000 per store.
Heinz and Acclaim Entertainment are the latest BrandAid converts, coming on-board this month with postcards touting EZ Squirt colored ketchup and the latest Mary-Kate and Ashley video game, respectively. Other kidvertisers that have glommed onto the program include Pepsi’s Hawaiian Punch, Oscar Mayer, Hasbro, Honey Nut Cheerios, Disney and Nickelodeon.
Nick tapped into the program’s unique approach last October to build hype for the launch of As Told By Ginger. ‘It served to really extend the brand message to our core audience of mothers and kids in a nontraditional and direct way,’ says Stanja Grindley, the net’s advertising manager for brand and franchise marketing. She adds that the only drawback to the BrandAid project is that its tracking system is not finite enough to measure the true reach of brand messages. ‘The cards moved pretty quickly, but how can you really gauge the benefits of this program?’ she asks. ‘There was no real true measure. I can’t say we had a rating.’ But according to Badian, the number of kids who called BrandAid’s New York head office looking for more Ginger cards once they had disappeared from the displays should speak for itself.
Included on the displays this month are postcards for Cinderella at Radio City Music Hall, Blue’s Clues on Broadway and four animated series from Cartoon Network. With advertisers lined up to June, the card program is doing pretty well, but Badian says he would love to see Disney come on-board a little stronger. ‘We’re already doing their Broadway shows, and we’d love to do their theatrical animated movies.’ And hooking up with Marvel Entertainment is also an imminently attainable BrandAid goal, according to Badian. ‘We’re just trying to knock around which characters they want to promote and how.’
So what do the 1,140 retailers get out of this deal? They are part of a revenue-sharing program that spans stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Washington D.C. To date, BrandAid has secured partnerships with supermarkets including Pathmark, Dominicks, Vons, Pavillions, Kroger, Big Y and Harris Teeter. This month, BrandAid launches in the Safeway chain in Chicago, and discussions are currently underway to bring Kroger and Safeway chains in Atlanta and Washington D.C. into the BrandAid fold.