Campaign Spoons Up Award Winners

To promote its second annual Technology Leadership Award, Gelco Information Network, Minneapolis, decided it wanted to run a much different campaign than last year.

Gelco, a provider of outsourced travel expense management technology, did all of the production work for last year's campaign. This year, it hired Kerker Marketing Communications, Minneapolis. Kerker, an integrated marketing communications company, decided the best way to market something to the food and supermarket product industries was to make the mail piece look like one of their own products, so it designed it to look like a box of cereal. The award recognizes food brokers who use technology to improve the trade promotion industry.

The campaign consisted of two cereal-box mailings. First, Gelco mailed out nomination ballots to food and product manufacturers — such as 3M, Playtex, Tropicana North America, Tootsie Roll and Norpac Food Sales — asking them to nominate who they think is the best broker in the country. For the most part, the mailing was targeted at company brand managers and vice presidents of sales. Once the nominations were returned, Gelco mailed out packets to the nominated brokers asking them to fill out award applications.

“After we decided to make this year's campaign more strategic, we wanted them to come up with something that we could use year after year,” said Patricia Becker, director of marketing communications at Gelco. “The cereal box doesn't have to be used each time. Next year, we may use a soup can, or something along those lines. It's definitely different from our old campaign and different, in fact, from most others.”

The box has turned into a lead generator for the company as well.

“It was not designed with that intention,” Becker said, “but people are looking at it and want to learn more about us and our technology.”

Not only is the mail piece larger than the original but the entire scope of the campaign is larger. Last year, Gelco mailed out 28 pieces, which consisted of a letter and a brochure, and received nine responses. This year, it mailed to 1,300 manufacturers and received back 38 responses.

“There was no particular number of responses that we were expecting to receive,” Becker said, “but this exceeded any of the expectations we might have had. This time, unlike the last, we didn't have to go chasing anybody for responses. They came back immediately.”

Patty Morris, senior account executive at Kerker, said numbers are available yet on the broker's response rates.

The award will be presented Oct. 9 at the Association Sales & Marketing Companies, Reston, VA, annual convention in New Orleans. The manufacturer who nominates the winning broker will receives a laptop computer. Becker said Gelco started the award to show their support for brokers who use not only Gelco technology, but any technology that helps make the trade promotion process easier and more efficient.

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