Three major supermarket chains are running a promotion based on team-specific National Football League videos. Jewel Food Stores, Melrose Park, Ill., King Soopers, Denver, and Safeway's Eastern division, Lanham, Md., are tying in with Coca-Cola, local media companies and PolyGram Video, New York, to promote NFL titles that document the "greatest moments in" their local team's history. Safeway also is including Kodak as a promotional partner. "We are trying to provide the Redskins fans with a video that would be of interest to them," said John Deckard, a Safeway spokesman. "Obviously we have a whole bunch of Washington Redskin fans in the Eastern division of Safeway," he said. In an ad announcing the promotion, Safeway invited customers to play "Match the Moments!" and win a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. People had to pick the 10 greatest moments in Washington Redskins history, and if their selections matched those of a panel of sports experts, they were eligible to win. Other prizes included a Redskins jacket, a 75th anniversary NFL football and a Redskins hat. Safeway priced the 55-minute tape at $14.95. "Ultimately, what all promotions are for is to try to provide customers with what they want, or to meet their needs. In this case, if you are a Washington Redskins fan and you want a piece of memorabilia with footage of important games, this is a great addition to your collection," said Deckard.
The tape would do well for Safeway even without the cross-promotional partners, he said. "A Washington Redskins fan is going to buy the tape without regard to anything else. If you are a die-hard fan, you are a die-hard fan. It makes a good Christmas gift and it is the right time of year for that as well," said Deckard.
Jewel advertised a tape about the Chicago Bears for $12.95 with a $2 coupon on the ad. Jewel also had a contest offering a trip to the Pro Bowl as a grand prize, but referred consumers to the Chicago Tribune for details. At Jewel, spokeswoman Dianne Maffia said, "We don't want to comment to our competition on the promotions that we are running." Executives at King Soopers did not return phone calls. This is the second year that PolyGram has run this type of promotion, said Gene Silverman, president. It has been expanded from two to four markets this year, and "perhaps we'll look at more markets in the future. Each year we keep widening the net." The fourth retailer running the promotion this year is in the home center business in Buffalo. The chain, Chase Pitkin, is a sister company of Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y. In the future, PolyGram will do it "where it makes sense for us to line up with a major supermarket chain, who can comfortably tie in with other brands to create a unique promotion, and we feel that there is enough passion for their local team. Very few markets don't support their local football team," said Silverman. "We think that the fans' passion is strong enough on a local basis to support a few of these promotions a year," he said. With labor strikes reducing fan interest in professional hockey and baseball, these football promotions come at an especially good time, said Silverman. "Barring any other sports activities of universal appeal right now, we have been able to back into a handful of these supermarket promotions that create extra foot traffic for the supermarket and extra promotional value for our NFL brand," he said. The promotions started in mid-November, but "we believe that the biggest part of the sale opportunity is still in front of us with the holiday season and the playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl. The interest and passion for football intensifies as more people are home between Christmas and New Year's," he said. The promotion works especially well for supermarket chains that already have a relationship with the local team. "In all three of these cases, the supermarket chains have an ongoing relationship in the marketplace with the team," said Tim Pearson, PolyGram's vice president of business development. PolyGram works closely with retailers in other markets, as well as the ones with the local team video promotion, he said. "We have home team retailers in every single NFL market. We work with that chain, which in some cases is a supermarket, and a media outlet, to feature product and do more aggressive ads." "The NFL brand always arouses and peaks people's interest," said Silverman. "It affords that extra dimension of foot traffic for that supermarket chain because there is something unique going on there that enables the consumer to benefit from the multiple purchases. It's a good advertising hook that has more sex appeal than tomatoes at 29 cents a pound," he said. "The nice thing about NFL videos is that they marry the passion of sports with the fun of home entertainment. So retailers are getting the benefit of not only being identified with football, but they are also being identified with home entertainment," said Silverman. The local team promotions help increase sales of the other NFL videos that PolyGram offers, he noted.