SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- When Sunkist Growers here teamed with Smith's Food & Drug Centers, Salt Lake City, to offer Los Angeles-area consumers a special price on oranges, it used mobile billboards to put the word out on the street.
The result was an account-specific promotion with an element of store-specific execution, said John Famini, Sunkist sales representative.
For the five-day promotion in March, Sunkist hired Billboards in Motion, a Huntington Beach, Calif., company, to drive vehicles bearing the joint advertising message in neighborhoods adjacent to Smith's stores. The individual routes were chosen following consultation with store managers.
"The billboards stayed within a 5-mile radius of each store," Famini said. "Their routes were chosen to coincide with the trading area."
Smith's store managers, he added, were deemed most likely to know from which surrounding neighborhoods their shoppers would come. Each manager reviewed a local map every morning with the drivers. The size and placement of the Sunkist display was also left to the discretion of the managers.
"One store manager wanted [the billboard vehicle] parked on the corner of his parking lot, so that is what they did. He left it there for 10 hours. He was very happy with the performance of the ad," said Famini.
The promotion offer -- five pounds of Sunkist oranges for a dollar -- was supported by mass displays in the stores, he said, adding, "Smith's ordered about 20% more product than originally anticipated to keep up with consumer demand."
In addition to the mobile billboards, the event was supported by 125 ten-second radio tags during Metro Traffic reports announcing Smith's deal on Sunkist oranges, he said. Metro Traffic is a syndicated traffic report service which broadcasts on 50 affiliate stations in the Los Angeles market.
The radio tie-in was coordinated by Billboards In Motion.
Supermarket chains in southern California engage in intense competition to convince consumers that they have the best produce offerings, observed Famini, adding, "Smith's has the same idea [as we do,] that different things have to be tried."
The headline on the mobile billboards read, "Get Sunkist at Smith's Food & Drug Centers." A tag line on the ads said, "What's in a name? Everything."
The signs, about 20 feet high, are also lighted after dark.
Said Rich Carroll, Los Angeles district manager for Sunkist, "Smith's was so pleased that it is looking to repeat the program in the near future."
Carroll added that Sunkist is exploring plans to expand the promotion to retailers in other West Coast markets. Those decisions are expected by June.