OTTAWA -- Canadian retailers are going for the gold with a month-long produce promotion that supports the country's Olympic athletes. The promotion, which runs throughout July at most of Canada's largest chains, allows consumers to donate to the Canadian Olympic team by purchasing fruits and vegetables from participating retailers and suppliers. Proceeds will go to support athletes at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta this month, with a portion going to the Canadian Produce Marketing Association here, which is organizing the promotion. Retailers participating include Metro-Richelieu, A&P of Canada, Canada Safeway, Sobeys, Oshawa Group and Overwaitea Food Group. The chains are running certain items on ad each week in July and posting point-of-purchase materials throughout the produce department in support of the campaign. "It's a big promotion for us and the suppliers," said Ghislain Perron, merchandiser for Montreal-based Metro-Richelieu. "It will be very interesting." Like other participating retailers, Metro-Richelieu will reprint CPMA's "Reach For It" logo, which encourages consumers to eat five to 10 servings of produce daily, along with the official Canadian Olympic logo on its ads and in the store. "Consumers will be able to see that part of the sales of some fruits and vegetables will be going back to the Olympic team," Perron said. He credited CPMA and its marketing director, Marc Seaman, for smoothly organizing the promotion.
Seaman told SN this is the first time CPMA has attempted an Olympics promotion on this scale. The produce promotion organization is now looking to develop long-term partnerships with the Canadian Olympic Association, Seaman added.
"Retailers have responded very positively," he said. "They see it as a great promotion to increase sales. It's a win-win situation for both the suppliers and the retailers."
Seaman said the Olympics offered a natural tie-in with produce, since fruits and vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Consumer response was positive before the promotion was even launched, he said. "The average consumer wants to support Canadian Olympians, but doesn't know how," he said.
In-store materials clearly identify which fruits and vegetables are part of the promotion each week, he said. Half of the proceeds are going to the Olympics team, and the other half to CPMA, Seaman said. "We're hoping to raise $100,000 for the Olympics team, and $100,000 for the CPMA."
Having the 1996 Summer Games in the United States is also a boon, promotionally speaking, he said. "The beauty of it this year is that the Olympics are in North America, which is generating a lot of publicity," Seaman said. Suppliers are participating by agreeing to donate a percentage of money for each case sold during the promotion. The promotion will work out well for suppliers, said Perron. He used bananas as an example. July is a slow time of year for them because so many other fruit varieties are in season, he said. However, a banana supplier is participating in the Olympics campaign and, accordingly, Metro-Richelieu has committed to running bananas on ad during July.