WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- Picture the sales presentation: special-events director gets excited about a space flight tie-in, and a staid company decides to run a sweepstakes offering a lucky consumer a trip into outer space.
It's true. Dole Food Co. here has announced that it will partner with Zegrahm Space Voyages, Seattle, and its aerospace partner, Vela Technology Development, Vienna, Va., for a national sweepstakes it describes as being "of galactic proportions" for its 1999 Thanksgiving promotion. A nationwide freestanding insert is set to appear Nov. 7 announcing the "Win a Trip to Outer Space From Dole" sweepstakes.
"We're pretty excited about it," said Marty Ordman, director of sales promotion and special events for Dole. "Through our sales force, we have found some retailers who are planning displays of our products centered around the theme."
The promotion crosses Dole's different divisions, focusing mainly on Center Store canned fruit and canned and frozen juice, but also including value-added salads, fresh pineapple and bananas.
"Dole is very conservative in some ways, but we took a thorough look at it, and we believe [space travel for tourists] will be a reality in the next three or four years," Ordman told SN. The grand prize includes a seven-day astronaut training program that culminates in an actual flight into space, up to 100 kilometers, to view the earth's curvature and experience weightlessness, the company said. The winner will be announced next March, and the trip will take place in late 2002, Dole said.
"The concept ties in well with the Millennium fascination without doing a 'Me, too' kind of promotion," said Ordman. "It plays off on people's fascination with the future, the infinite possibilities of what may happen."
Already, the company offering the trips has close to 200 reservations, with paid deposits, for similar flights at a cost of $98,000 per person, according to Chris Ostendorf, manager of public relations for Zegrahm Space Voyages. The vehicle prototype looks a lot like a business jet, he said, and is visible on the company's Web site at www.spacevoyages.com.
Contest rules allow the consumer winner to opt out of the space trip and take a cash alternative of $50,000, Ordman explained.