Bowling For Dollars

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Bowling For Dollars

By Bob Gatty - 11/01/2010

Suppliers and retailers alike are gearing up for winning Super Bowl sales.

From football-shaped pizza crusts to sweepstakes for tickets, and even a chance to become a millionaire and TV commercial producer, supermarket shoppers are about to be blitzed with promotions capitalizing on the excitement of Super Bowl XLV, set for Feb. 6, 2011, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

All of those promotions are intended to help fill the coolers, snack baskets and party trays of the millions of fans who will cheer for their favorite team with family and friends. With nine out of 10 Super Bowl fans rooting at home, "home-gating" offers a huge opportunity for retailers and suppliers to team up and score.

Last February, just ahead of Super Bowl XLIV, The Nielsen Company predicted that the hugely popular sporting event would generate nearly 166 million pounds of snacks for Americans' at-home gatherings, including more than 44 million pounds of potato chips, tortilla chips and pretzels.

"Today's consumers want value but also want convenience," notes Nick Lake, VP, group client director, beverage alcohol at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen. "While picking up snacks and soda, they're adding beer to their grocery baskets. In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, look for heavy promotions at grocery stores, encouraging consumers to take advantage of the one-stop shop for their Super Bowl party needs."

Those promotional campaigns are well underway, with suppliers continuing to roll out new and creative campaigns, and retailers themselves putting the finishing touches on their own touchdown drives, many connecting with brand manufacturer partners.

One of the most prominent — and popular — campaigns for the past four years has been Frito-Lay's "Crash the Super Bowl" ad contest, which gives consumers a chance to create TV commercials that, if selected, could rake in a cool $1 million. This year, Pepsi MAX has joined the party, and the competition now offers an unprecedented six 30-second Super Bowl ad spots for consumer-created commercials — three each for Pepsi MAX and Doritos.

Potential grand prizes for the contest will be based on each winning ad's ranking on the USA TODAY Ad Meter, with $1 million awarded for an ad that scores the No. 1 spot, $600,000 for coming in second and $400,000 for third.

Participants can upload their commercials to through Nov. 15. Ten finalists will be revealed in January — five for each product — and fans will vote for their top two favorites for each product. Company executives will select the remaining two winners. In addition, fans who vote are automatically entered into a drawing to win two Super Bowl tickets each week between Jan. 3 and Jan. 30, 2011.

"We are engaging consumers to celebrate on the world's biggest stage," says Michael Fox, director of marketing for Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay's Doritos and Cheetos brands. "With this excitement, it helps build store traffic, and last year we saw double-digit growth for Doritos as a result. We had great PR and momentum in the stores leading up to the game."

With in-store displays and the company's heavy marketing blitz around the campaign, Fox predicts similar results this year for Doritos and Pepsi MAX, as well as the company's other snack and beverage brands that will benefit from the additional exposure.

Super Promos

With the game being played in Texas, the Southern Division of Albertsons LLC — the official grocer of the Dallas Cowboys — is already in the red zone with its Super Bowl promos. They include a 10 percent-off Game Day Jersey promotion; support for the "Souper Bowl of Caring" campaign, in which area grocers join forces to collect food and money to help feed the hungry; and a tailgate recipe contest with a grand prize of two Super Bowl tickets and a chance to be on television with former Dallas Cowboys Babe Laufenburg and Randy White.

While unable to discuss specific vendor promotions, which were still being finalized at presstime, spokeswoman Christine Wilcox says, "Our stores will be ready for Super Bowl game day, no matter who the final teams are."

Mike Siemienas, spokesman at Albertsons' parent, Minneapolis-based Supervalu, concurs: "The Super Bowl will be a huge theme in our circulars. We will have in-store displays and special promotions for food and beverage products that are commonly included in Super Bowl parties."

Earlier this year, Supervalu conducted a "snack survey" on behalf of its national family of stores, which includes Acme, Albertsons, bigg's, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save, and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, to determine football fans' game-day snacking habits.

The survey showed that chips or other salty snacks are hands-down favorites for game-day snacking, and that nearly 90 percent said they rarely feel guilty about what they eat when watching football.

"With many Americans planning to enjoy the NFL playoff games and Super Bowl at home, we recognize that shoppers will be looking for some simple ideas to round out their game-day party menus," noted Siemienas.

The survey also showed that 87 percent of respondents purchase their snacks, foods and ingredients for football fare in supermarkets. Thus, thousands of supermarket retailers and food manufacturers across the nation will feature such winning game-day fare this year as pizza, snacks, candy, finger foods of all kinds, deli and veggie trays, and dips in an effort to cash in on football fever and the Super Bowl.

For example, snack brands from Diamond Foods Inc., including Emerald snack nuts and Kettle Brand chips, are being leveraged in its Snack Bowl XLV promotion.

Beginning in January, the promotion will be supported with a national FSI and in-store merchandising vehicles. In addition, a dedicated website will feature details of the initiative, and the San Francisco-based company will huddle up with social media to spread the word.

Consumers can submit applications to Diamond for a chance to win a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony. Entrants can encourage friends to vote for them until the Super Bowl, when the participant with the most votes will be awarded the grand prize, the company says.

Aside from salty snack makers and growers, fresh food suppliers are also plotting for high-scoring game-day selling opportunities. Steve Gold, VP of marketing and sales for South Fallsburg, N.Y.-based Murray's Chicken, says his company is promoting its turkey and chicken sliders, which are made by combining all-natural ground poultry with a proprietary blend of sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper.

Describing sliders as "a hot commodity," Gold says, "People love to serve them, and more people are watching football at home these days, and with the interaction between websites and TV, it's incredible." He adds that the home-gating trend enables folks to make "the same type of foods at home as you would find at the stadium. We hope to capitalize on that."

Gold says packages of the sliders will soon include a "smart code," which will allow consumers to take a picture of it with their smart phone and be automatically entered in a contest to win a grill. "We are also using social networking through Facebook and Twitter. Last year's slider campaign exceeded expectations, and slider sales continued throughout the winter months and into the barbecue season," he adds.

Padding the Pizza Helmets

Taking a page out of a major snack maker's playbook (Frito-Lay kicked off a limited-edition, football-shaped version of Tostitos in October), Mama Rosa's, a refrigerated pizza company based in Sidney, Ohio, has just launched a new helmet-shaped pizza that will be heavily promoted for Super Bowl sales, as well as playoff games and college football.

The company signed an agreement with Helotes, Texas-based Myrna Rae LLC to develop the product, which is available in six varieties: pepperoni, four-cheese blend, supreme, sausage, veggie and a combo.

"Myrna Rae's ‘Tailgate Party Pizza' will be a unique opportunity for our company and the retailer to create excitement in the category in a way that nobody else has done before," notes company spokeswoman Suze Parker. "This will be great for college bowl games, the NFL playoffs, and ultimately for Super Bowl parties."

In the Midwest, the rapidly growing Casey's General c-store chain has teamed up with Snickers and its Super Bowl XLV Fan Sweepstakes, for a campaign that's being run in the company's 1,500 stores throughout Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

To participate in the sweepstakes, which includes a grand prize of round-trip airfare to Arlington, hotel accommodations for two, and two Super Bowl tickets, entrants must enter a Casey's General Store to register.

"We're seeing some good response, especially in our target demographic of 25-to-49-year-olds," says Corey Hart, the Ankeny, Iowa-based company's brand manager, noting the campaign run date of Sept.1 through Oct. 31, with a grand-prize drawing set for Nov. 10. "We have signage throughout our stores, and it's also tapped into our radio and TV campaigns." Hart says the company connected with Snickers for the campaign because the brand is an official sponsor of the Super Bowl, which then allows Casey's to use Super Bowl images, logos and related material. "We put the campaign together," he explains, "and [Snickers] provides the trip." Mars Chocolate North America, meanwhile, has launched a nationwide campaign, the "Go Nuts At The Super Bowl" sweepstakes, a season-long promotion the Hackettstown, N.J.-based company says "teams two iconic brands — Snickers and the NFL — in a promotional partnership highlighting the league's most passionate fans."

In its promo materials, Mars says, “Every NFL team has them - those extreme fans, mild-mannered during the week but who go stark-raving nuts for their favorite teams on game day.”

Signage and in-store displays promote the sweepstakes on packages of specially marked Snickers King Size and Minis. Consumers have a chance to instantly win one of 17 grand-prize trips to the Super Bowl by entering codes online and via text-to-enter. Thousands of other NFL-related sweepstakes prizes will also be awarded in the campaign, which ends Dec. 16 and is available to convenience, drug, grocery, mass, specialty and value channels.

"Mars Chocolate creates many consumer programs that allow retailers to leverage our national promotional events," says Tim Quinn, VP, trade development at Mars Chocolate North America. Promotions like the Super Bowl Go Nuts campaign "help drive volume on retailers' category sales, and it creates an exciting and engaging shopping experience," he adds.

With such campaigns, brand manufacturers — the quarterbacks — are dropping back for a long pass into the end zone. Savvy retailers are sending their wide receivers deep, ready to catch that ball and score.


Big game-day "home-gating" offers huge opportunities for retailers and suppliers to team up and score.

Brand manufacturers — the quarterbacks — are dropping back for a long pass into the end zone.

"Every NFL team has them — those extreme fans, mild-mannered during the week but who go stark-raving nuts for their favorite teams on game day."

-Mars Chocolate North America