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Even promo games are complicated

Steve Sekelik

EAGLE COUNTY – Do you remember Marlboro Miles? I have never been a cigarette smoker, but I vividly call to mind the neatly organized stacks of cardboard Miles on my roommate’s counter. This guy would smoke two packs a day because he had to have that big red tent. Then the penlight, the little bottle opener, and the backpack. Essentially, he traded years of his life for red paraphernalia with the Marlboro logo. He wasn’t alone. Masses of smokers took out their scissors and started clipping away. Needless to say, Marlboro Miles was a very successful marketing promotion. Building on the success of Marlboro Miles, many other companies quickly jumped on the rewards bandwagon. Pepsi launched the Pepsi Stuff promotion, “Drink Pepsi, Get Stuff.” I was given a Pepsi jersey from by boss that in order to earn enough Pepsi Stuff points, you would have to intravenously pump Pepsi through your veins for weeks.During the dot com boom, I had one of the coolest jobs a tech guy with a marketing mind could ever dream of. I worked under one the country’s top marketing wizards, Danny Socolof. Danny was formerly a concert promoter for The Who and has a long history of creating cutting-edge music and technology-based attractions for Fortune 500 companies. My responsibility at MEGA (Marketing Entertainment Group of America Inc.) was to assist in the conceptual and technical framework for promotions, attractions and various projects we were working on.One of our projects was to develop a unique, cutting-edge rewards promotion for Pepsi that increased brand affinity and extended brand awareness by leveraging product packaging, prizes and the Internet to further extend Pepsi’s marketing punch and, of course, increase product sales. At the time, online rewards programs did not really exist for that purpose, with the exception of a Coca Cola promotion that featured an online video game that was fueled by game credits earned by purchasing bottles of Coca Cola. The more you drink, the more you play. Today, cutting-edge technology-based rewards programs are spawning each day and a new generation of guerilla marketers is looking to capture the personal information and demographics of their consumers to further extend the consumption of their products.Many of today’s digital rewards promotions require consumers to not only twist off the cap, scratch off, or peel off something to see if you won, but now you have to go home, get a code from the product, log onto the Internet, visit a Web site, fill in a form to join yet another spam list, then punch in a code to see what “You Didn’t Win.” That sure seems like a complicated, time-consuming activity to me! Reflecting back on my days at MEGA, when I helped conceptualize these types of promotions, I can honestly say that I miss the good old days when I could just twist off the cap to see if I won a free soda. It was quick, easy to play, and relevant. Today’s digital rewards promotions are an example of how technological advances have complicated our lives, as opposed to help make our lives easier as technology should. Steve Sekelik, owner of Interworkz Training and Consulting Inc., can be reached at 376-2233, on the Web at http://www.interworkz.com or by e-mail at info@interworkz.comVail, Colorado


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