CVS Launches First Integrated Promotion

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CVS/Pharmacy will launch its first major online and off-line integrated promotion tomorrow labeled "The Neutrogena Palm Springs Getaway Sweepstakes."


The contest will encourage in-store consumers to visit CVS.com where they can enter to win.


This is just the latest example of traditional companies flexing their off-line muscle to draw traffic online.


Through June 17, employees at the 4,100 CVS stores will hand out business card-sized teasers that steer consumers to the site. Each teaser will have a store number on it for consumers to include when they enter the contest online.


Employees at the top-10 stores that generate the most entries will win cash, travel and merchandise prizes. The grand-prize winner of the consumer-oriented contest will receive a four-day, three-night trip for two to Palm Springs, CA.


The company is mobilizing its employees to give the program an extra push, said Mike Hartman, vice president of marketing at CVS.com, Seattle, a subsidiary of CVS/Pharmacy.


"CVS does more than 3 million transactions per day," Hartman said. "Add that up over a four-week period and it has powerful potential for us. It will give us a way to have the consumer be exposed to the promotion rather than just an end-aisle display that they may or may not see."


CVS also will promote the contest through its 33 million weekly circulars available in stores and distributed with Sunday newspapers.


This is an excellent and somewhat unusual example of the synergy of online and off-line marketing, said Irwin Barkan, chairman of e-BuyersGuide.com, Burlington, MA, a market research firm.


"That's an interesting twist on what is happening right now with most multi-channel promotions," Barkan said. "Generally, people who are online are encouraged via a promotion to go to an existing bricks-and-mortar store. [Being that they've reversed that model] this sounds extremely creative. It's a good example of what's happening more and more every day -- the convergence of multi-channel marketing."


Creating effective integrated marketing efforts is the present-day and future goal for CVS. "This is really the first full-scale, full-blown integrated promotion for CVS.com," Hartman said. "We absolutely believe that the road to success and profitability is one where the marketing is fully integrated between the stores and the site. We're already on that journey."


CVS isn't alone in its integration efforts. Earlier this year, Staples Inc. launched its "Hey, you don't have to run out" campaign using in-store signage, its catalog and traditional advertising.


CVS also is testing off-line advertising while also spreading its Web address by printing it across register tapes, broadcasting it over in-store radio and emblazoning it on store bags.


The demise of the Internet-only company is happening, in essence, because of integrated initiatives such as CVS' contest and Staples' program. Most of these Web companies, excluding early movers such as Amazon.com, can't compete with established stores and their huge off-line presence, Barkan said.


"The pure-play Internet retailer has clearly been shown as a loser in the battle for the long-term customer unless they are aligned or part of a bricks-and-mortar operation. If they don't join in multi-channel initiatives, they will likely go out of business."
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