For as long as there have been food brands, there have been promotional tie-ins on food packaging — think on-pack coupons, mail-in offers and instant-winner sweepstakes. Now, with the growing significance of electronic media, packaging's role in the promotional mix is expanding to leverage that technology.
"The package has to convey what this product is about and even a little bit of the expectation of the experience of the [product], so it's critical that the brands constantly look to use packaging in new and unique marketing ways," says Tom Egan, vice president of industry services at the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, Arlington, Va.
Even promotions that have been in existence for many years, like Campbell Soup's Labels for Education (LFE) program, are finding ways to play in the digital age.
The fundamentals of LFE remain unchanged: Consumers mail in UPC codes from specially marked packages to earn points that can be redeemed for educational materials, equipment and supplies for the school of their choice. Now, to draw on the power of the Internet, the LFE stamp on labels of participating products includes the program's web address (www.labelsforeducation.com). At the web site, consumers can become LFE coordinators, create and manage online accounts for "banked" points, identify bonus offers, redeem points and more.
Brands participating in the LFE program include Campbell's condensed and Chunky soups, SpaghettiO's, V8, Prego, Pepperidge Farm, Wolfgang Puck and Pop Secret.
As one of the newest brands in the program, Pop Secret is using special package graphics to call out its participation. The redesigned Pop Secret carton carries the LFE stamp on the top panel and the stamp plus UPC code on the bottom panel.
In addition, graphics for a promotional Pop Secret package feature an animated figure carrying a stop sign with the LFE logo and the message: "Clip and earn free stuff for your school." The carton's back panel also carries a message about the program. This promotional package, timed for back-to-school sales, will be in the marketplace from July through September 2010. It will be used for three-count and six-count Pop Secret, the brand's top sellers.
LFE was the first manufacturer-sponsored shopper rewards program, according to John Faulkner, director of brand communication, at Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J. The program "has been part of American family life since 1973. It is very much in the culture, and it's inexorably linked to Campbell's," he says. "We look at it as a program that says ‘thank you' to our consumers."
The household penetration metrics for LFE underscore the program's effectiveness in building brand loyalty. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of households participate in the program at some point during the year, according to Campbell's data.
Campbell Soup is taking advantage of supermarket scanning technology to bring LFE further into the digital age. In a pilot program with two U.S. supermarket chains, the company is trialing electronic redemption for labels. When the cashier scans the label at the point of purchase, the consumer's designated school is automatically credited with the correct amount of LFE points.