Making an in-store splash is key for marketing efforts surrounding licensed properties. And while building standout retail promos around hot shopping periods such as back-to-school and Christmas is a given, Toronto, Canada’s Studio Licensing is proving that large-scale in-store marketing programs can give sales at off-peak periods a solid shot in the arm.
Nickelodeon’s exclusive Canuck licensing agency, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, got the ball rolling last year with a late-spring family-friendly promotion that involved giving away a minivan stuffed with SpongeBob, Dora and Diego toys from Fisher-Price through national mass retail chain Zellers and kidcaster YTV. According to Studio Licensing president Robert Miller (who co-owns the agency with his wife Debbie), Zellers saw sales of Nick goods shoot up roughly 35% from the same period in 2006. Moreover, broadcaster YTV’s website, which housed the entry form, fielded more than 150,000 entries, and the number of unique visitors to the site doubled to 50% during the contest’s period.
‘We do six to seven large-scale retail programs a year,’ says Miller. ‘But part of our strategy is to do some at slower times of the year so we can show all our partners that in-store marketing really makes a difference.’
Not surprisingly, Zellers has welcomed Studio’s ideas for another late-spring in-store contest set to take place between April 21 and May 25. This time around, Nick and its agency partners are offering Canadian families the chance to ‘Win enough Wheels for a family of four!’
Thanks to Miller’s resourceful retail development staff, the company was able to secure last year’s minivan from Toronto-area car dealership Mills Pontiac for the price of brand exposure and some showroom visits from SpongeBob. Miller says a Saturday morning SpongeBob costumed character appearance helped the dealership triple its normal weekend sales volume. So this year, Mills gladly supplied two Pontiac Wave sedans, on similar terms, to go along with the two Diego motorized jeeps that make up the new contest’s grand prize worth approximately US$30,000. In addition, Miller got luggage licensee Heys to supply 300 family-sized sets of luggage for a per-store giveaway component.
For its part, Zellers is getting ready to display two sets of the vehicles in two of its busiest stores and will be running a feature on the contest in its weekly flyer, which has a circulation of 11 million copies. Each store will also have signage including main aisle displays, tent toppers and shelf talkers. YTV sisternet Treehouse, meanwhile, will host a five-page microsite and entry form for four weeks on its web portal.
Miller estimates it takes roughly nine to 12 months to pull together promotions of this size, and says securing prizing is the most difficult part. But he’s committed to spending the majority of his marketing dollars on promos that consumers can see as they walk into a store. Other traditional spend on magazine, TV and online ads is really secondary.