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Shopping Is Thirsty Work The outlet mall moguls at Prime Retail are pinning their promotional plans on cans of Coca-Cola. The Baltimore-based property manager has launched a marketing partnership program as it rebrands its 51 malls under the Prime Outlet moniker. Coca-Cola USA is the first to sign a sponsorship deal, and Prime Retail is courting others with the promise of promotional access to 100 million shoppers annually. For starters, Prime Retail is targeting lodging, entertainment, financial services, and auto marketers. (Prime Retail also wants to partner with tourism groups to bring bus tours to its malls, and will begin targeting Europe by 2001. Tourists account for 30 percent of Prime Retail sales.)

Coca-Cola and Prime are considering ways to tailor Coke cards nationally or by region with offers at Prime Outlet stores. Malls also may work with local bottlers for on-pack coupons or offers, similar to Coke’s tie-ins with theme parks. Prime Retail expects to test on-pack promos in a few cities this year before rolling out system-wide.

The promotion partnership effort is spearheaded by sponsorship manager Holly Laser, who moves from Prime Retail’s p.r. department. The plan is to build a new revenue stream to fund the malls’ own marketing, while giving non-retail brands a promotional forum. With Coke, vending machines fund promos to build mall traffic, and Coke’s marketing experts tutor Prime Retail staffers.

Why did Coke sign? “Shopping is thirsty work,” explains Coca-Cola USA vp-customer marketing Carla Cooper, in a statement released by Prime Retail. Another factor may be Pepsi-Cola Co.’s exclusive partnership with Simon Property Group and its 200-plus properties. Pepsi and Simon are still tweaking a loyalty program for teenage mall rats, originally set for September ’98 launch.

Rolodex Check OfficeMax, Cleveland, wants to max out its marketing presence, so the office supplies chain hired its first senior vp-marketing, advertising and sales promotion in December. Robert Islinger comes from Payless Cashways, a Kansas City-based chain of home improvement stores, where he headed up corporate marketing and merchandising. OfficeMax chairman Michael Feuer wants Islinger to better integrate OfficeMax’s marketing and make it more sophisticated. Islinger’s experience catering to construction pros as well as consumers at Payless Cashways may help OfficeMax beef up its service to small businesses… Sneaker chain FootAction USA, Irving, TX, hired its first senior vp-marketing in December, tapping Pizza Hut veteran John Lauck for its 568 stores. Lauck spent 10 years in marketing posts at the Hut, including vp-national planning and field marketing, and senior director of event marketing. Lauck moved to Blockbuster Entertainment Corp. in ’97 as vp-corporate development… Department store chain Kohl’s Corp., Menomonee Falls, WI, named Kevin Mansell senior exec vp-merchandising and marketing in November, as part of an aggressive growth plan. Mansell has been at Kohl’s since ’82, most recently as general merchandise manager for a handful of departments and manager of micro marketing. Now he picks up marketing duties for the 214-store chain serving 22 states, mostly in the Midwest… Information Resources Inc., Chicago, hired Charlene Trimmer as its first exec vp-sales solutions in January. The Procter & Gamble veteran will pitch IRI’s decision services products to packaged goods sales execs. She spent 18 years at P&G, most recently as worldwide marketing director for skin care, which ought to make her empathetic to IRI clients’ sales issues… Coinstar, Bellevue, WA, named Ian Melanson vp-sales and marketing and Bill Booth vp-retail development in January. Melanson, who comes from McKinsey & Co., will develop new services for Coinstar’s network of 4,800 coin-counting/couponing machines in supermarkets. Booth is charged with expanding the network, now covering 37 states, and will oversee Coinstar’s relationship with retailers.

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