MARKETING TECHNIQUE: SALES PROMOTION * PUBLIC RELATIONS; A winning solution

The year-old Lottery has boosted an already buoyant sales promotion sector with copycat scratchcards and merchandising spin-offs. David Teather reports

The year-old Lottery has boosted an already buoyant sales promotion

sector with copycat scratchcards and merchandising spin-offs. David

Teather reports



The consumer database is ripe for a new category. Next to age, socio-

demographics and sex you can now add propensity to greed.



A year after the launch of the National Lottery, the avarice that

expressed itself as the need for designer goods in the 80s has

resurfaced as a lusting after good old-fashioned mountains of cash.



The new popular culture is more egalitarian than that of old. Everyone

can play this dreamers’ game whereas only a select few could enjoy the

80s ‘designer’ decade. The new icons are the more populist queens of

kitsch Anthea Turner and Mystic Meg instead of the understated Terence

Conran and Paul Smith and that, it must be said, is where sales

promotion comes in.



Winner takes it all



Sales promotion has seen a new dawn in less polished prevailing

attitudes. In the past 12 months, the industry has been forced to

reassess its way of doing business as choice of mechanic gets simpler -

run a scratchcard - and the prizes get bigger and bigger.



But it is also leveraging new opportunities as brand owners, once

concerned about the lack of prestige in sales promotion, have begun to

reassess their own attitudes. If the 80s were all about big budget image

advertising then the 90s could be the decade of win, win, win.

Scratchcards are no longer bad for your brand’s health.



‘A lot of clients used to see scratchcard or instant win promotions as

beneath them,’ says Steven Callender, managing director of sales

promotion agency Black Cat. ‘But they are beginning to appreciate that

if two-thirds of the population are playing a game, which is essentially

a promotional technique, then there must be something in it.’



Some sectors, such as newspapers, have always offered some sort of cash

promotion - remember when bingo was all the rage. All they have needed

to do is up the ante and tweak the mechanic (see page 33).



Brewers too have simply been carrying on a long tradition of pub

scratchcard games - although the new prizes are usually a bit better

than the traditional T-shirts and mugs.



Seven Courage brands are currently being promoted by a scratchcard,

offering drinkers the chance to win free beer for a year. The

scratchcard comes with four cans or bottles of brands, including

Foster’s, Holsten Pils and Miller Pilsner and offers runner up prizes of

more than 21,000 free cans of Foster’s.



Brands enter from all angles



But the scratchcard phenomenon, in particular, (Camelot sells around

27million a week) has seen a raft of brand players entering the market

from sectors as diverse as financial services, retail and travel firms.



A pair of high-street banks are tapping scratchcard fever to target

students. Both Midland and Barclays are offering cash prizes to

encourage students to open accounts. To claim the money, winners need to

be customers already or have to open an account to claim their prize.



‘It’s a means of boosting Midland’s profile,’ says a spokesman for the

bank. ‘Scratchcards are a bit of a trend at the moment and we thought it

would be fun to launch one.’



Thomas Cook, meanwhile, gave away an instant win scratchcard over the

summer offering extra travellers cheques and Granada Services ran a

programme in conjunction with The Gladiators TV show.



Scratchcards have been around in the UK since the early 70s, and were

initially used purely as a lottery device for local councils, football

clubs and charities before being adopted by the sales promotion industry

a decade later, and being made more sophisticated.



Manufacturer Opax International claims to have introduced the medium

into the UK in 1972 and says the scratchcard industry has come full

circle with a lottery once again setting the agenda.



Back on the bandwagon



Opax UK sales director, Bob Venters claims that the company’s business

from brand owners this year has grown by around 30% as they scramble to

jump back on the bandwagon. Promotions, such as Esso’s Drive Time have

gone into print runs of up to 100 million cards.



‘Despite the numbers getting involved, they are still all largely

successful,’ says Venters. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any signs of it

wearing off on the public. We have a lot of enquiries for projects

running into next year.’



It’s not just new brand owners that are getting involved in promotions

since the launch of the Lottery, but also new consumers. The Henley

Centre suggests that the Lottery has created 10 million new gamblers,

many of whom are also feeding their addictions through promotions at the

same time.



‘The Lottery has rekindled interest in promotions, which had been

beginning to waiver,’ says managing director of agency Fox Clark,

Stephen Fox. ‘The consumer is looking for promotions and getting more

involved.’



The growth in mass participation is likely to be coming from the fringes

of sales promotion’s traditional heartland at the lower end of the

social scale. Take a look at the profile of an average Lottery player

(see box) and, putting it politely, you are hardly presented with an

ABC1.



‘But it surprises me if anyone should condemn that,’ says Clark. ‘Sales

promotion has always been treated badly by marketers, who think that the

people who get involved are downmarket. But there are more of us

becoming the ‘man on the street’ all the time.



‘The success of the Lottery is a symptom of our times. It identifies a

malaise in this country of ‘Is there a way out?’ You have to ask, would

the Lottery have been such a success if we weren’t in recession. In

1986, I didn’t want a way out, I wanted this to go on forever.’



Evidence would seem to suggest that in this new age of avarice, the the

bigger the prize the greater the appeal for consumers. In response to

concerns over the ‘obscene’ payouts of the Lottery from organisations as

far and wide as the church and the Labour Party, Camelot has repeatedly

intoned that bigger prizes attract more players (with the sugar coating

of more cash going to good causes, of course).



The Lottery hit its peak in June, when a rollover jackpot offered a

pounds 22m prize. That week drew an astonishing 72.2 million entries.



The National Bingo game, meanwhile, has increased its prize to pounds 1m

for the first time, while the government-owned National Savings has seen

a big uptake after raising its top prize to pounds 1m. More bonds were

sold in the past 18 months than in the past decade.



TV quiz shows meanwhile have turned their backs on the delights of

cuddly toys and teasmaids for the more exciting prospect of a free house

worth ‘a staggering blah blah blah’. Such unashamed tack hasn’t been

seen since Jim Bowen handed out crisp fivers to winners on the set of

Bullseye.



Marketers will need to take note if they are to cut through the clutter

and make any kind of real impact with a sales promotion of their own.

‘The Lottery is setting a new standard,’ says Graham Griffiths, general

manager of Promotional Campaigns, which produced the Barclays

scratchcard.



‘It used to be that the Pedigree car in a can was as big as it gets but

we’re in a different league now. The consumer doesn’t differentiate

between a scratchcard from a lottery company and a scratchcard from a

brand owner. They just see the prize.’



To illustrate the point, Griffiths points to Lurpack, which a few years

ago ran an on-pack promotion offering ‘Olympic’ medals. Last year, the

brand offered cash prizes of pounds 1000 instead but, says Griffiths,

even that is now too low to make any real impact.



‘We couldn’t get away with the medals promotion today and I’d now think

twice about going to market with offers of pounds 1000.’



Fox at Fox Clark recently ran a promotion for a retail client offering a

car but spent time soul searching to decide whether or not a car seemed

a waste of time when pounds 20m was on offer from Camelot.



He ultimately ran the campaign. ‘It doesn’t have to be on a par with the

Lottery but you can’t offer garbage,’ he says.



Probably one of the most high-profile exercises in tapping the Lottery

inspired imagination has been the Walkers Crisps Instant Cheque Giveaway

promotion, which ran over the summer.



The promotion which gave away cash prizes in little blue bags even

prompted the Sunday Times to run a feature on who legally owns the money

if you buy the packet of crisps for a friend. (In case you were

wondering, it belongs to the friend).



The Walkers promotion at the start of the year gave away cheques up to

the value of pounds 10,000 and were pushed in the BMP DDB Needham Gary

Lineker TV campaign. It was followed up by the pounds 3m ‘Dial a Prize’

over the summer which offered a similar sum through a similar mechanic.

All far removed from the promotions of crisps past.



‘Instant win promotions have proved tremendously effective for the

Walkers brands,’ says Walkers brand manager for crisps, Ted Linehan. The

Dial-a-Prize promotion raised market share for Walkers Crisps to a

record high of 50% and to 72% in the impulse sector.



It’s a strategic move to encourage consumers to constantly retrial.’

According to IRI Infoscan, market share during the Instant Cheque

Promotion grew by 11%.



‘The multi-million pound wins associated with the National Lottery,

though, has made it necessary to create a constant stream of fresh

promotional mechanics. That’s why we’ve built in aspects, such as

instant cheques or personal delivery teams, to our prizes,’ says

Linehan.



Current promotions from Walkers, however, spread the prize money about,

instead of the pounds 100,000 top prize offered last year because, says

a spokesman, better odds give better results. Calender from Black Cat

wouldn’t be surprised and says that in focus groups, consumers tend to

react better when they know there are better chances of winning. ‘People

like the opportunity to win smaller prizes as well. They like the odds

to be better unless it’s the mega, mega prize’.



The trends show a decline over the past few months in sales of Camelot

scratchcards. Volumes have fallen by around 25% from pounds 44m to as

low as pounds 33.2m - a trend it hopes to reverse with an Instants game

show being developed with the BBC.



But does the decline suggest that the renaissance in sales promotion has

peaked as well? It seems unlikely. The irresistible power of the Lottery

can’t be denied. Superdrug ripped out National Lottery kiosks earlier in

the year because they were causing congestion but replaced them with its

own scratchcard in September. The Beauty Spot Scratchcards offer nearly

pounds 1m in prizes, including far-flung holidays for two.



Calender adds. ‘Sales promotion was riding the crest of a wave anyway -

what the Lottery has done is make that wave bigger. The instant win

promotion was already growing although clients are now looking at it

with slightly fresher eyes.’



------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anatomy of a Lottery Player

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The UK has achieved the highest percentage of regular players of any

Lottery launched in the past 20 years. Ten million new gamblers have

been created overnight with more than 58% of the nation playing every

week and buying at least two tickets each. The outlay is the equivalent

of 0.5% of disposable income or 5% of personal savings.

Lottery stores have seen their sales rise by up to 20%. According to the

Henley Centre, the hard core Lottery players are likely to:

be aged between 25 and 34                     (81% play the Lottery)

earn between pounds 9,500 and pounds 15,500   (72% play the Lottery)

live in Scotland                              (81% of Scots play)

like a flutter on the horses                  (91% play the Lottery)

read a tabloid newspaper                      (82% play the Lottery)

watch more than 29 hours of TV a week         (76% play the Lottery)

------------------------------------------------------------------------



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