Coles wins 'clunky promo of the year' award
By Ian GRAYSON
Every so often a business promomtion comes along where the execution is so bizarre it makes your jaw drop. It happened this week while I was shopping at Coles.
The supermarket chain that's been busy lowering its prices and has obviously done the same thing with its corporate intelligence.
I'm talking about the Coles Sports for Schools promotion currently running around the country. It rewards regular customers with the promise that their shopping will result in free sporting gear being given to schools.
Now I've nothing against the promotion itself. A corporate entity associating itself with sport and schools and using that association to drive sales is a solid idea. It's the way it's being run that got me.
The promotion works like this. You nominate your school of choice and then encourage students, families and friends to do all their grocery shopping at Coles. For each $10 spent (at Coles, Pick n'Pay or BI-LO supermarkets) Coles will credit one point to the school. When you get a certain number of points, they are converted into free sporting gear. So far so good.
But how does it work in practice? Each time a shopper goes through the checkout, they're given one paper token for each $10 spent. These paper tokens must be taken to the school where they are counted and the number entered into the Sports for Schools website.
While waiting in line last weekend I watched as shopper after shopper was presented with strips of tokens meters long. When you consider this is happening in stores around the country, that must be adding up to kilometeres of paper.
Add to this the fact that the vouchers all have to be posted back to Coles "for verification" at the end of the process and you have a seriously inefficient system happening.
The tokens get printed by Coles, trucked to the stores, handed to shoppers, taken home and then to school where they are finally sent back to Coles.
Considering the fact that each school has to create an account on the website in the first place, why can't tokens be credited electronically? The supermarket can do it for FlyBuy points, so why not use the same infrastructure for sports points?
Come on Coles, we're living in 2011. Do you really need thousands of school children and their parents to collect millions of bits of paper, only to post them back to you?
How about making use of the internet to streamline your promotions and reduce their impact on the environment?
You've got the infrastructure in place to accept all sorts of cards. How difficult would it be to incorporate this large promotion into the mix?
It might even mean you could spend more money on the sporting equipment you're promising.
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At least Woolworths’ schools promotion just adds a voucher to the end of the receipt, saving the checkout operator from having to count out tokens. It also means your favoured school can benefit from self-service purchases.
Oh, and the reason why you saw such long strips of tokens at Coles was that they were giving double tokens last weekend.
I received a length of Coles vouchers shopping today and it crossed my mind as to how much this whole generous exercise was adding to my weekly shop (nothing's for nothing)and to reduce this cost, why not link it with their FF program and gather the data electronically. Woolworths allows you to credit your fuel voucher to a reward card.
I think you are really missing the point here. Coles is using underhand methods to advertise in our schools for the miserly exchange of sport equipment. As a society, out of this deal, we get our children's minds manipulated by a major corporation. The extent of this is that children are now competitive about how many vouchers they bring in so are effectively working for Coles at school as consumers and promoters. Surely, their time would be better spent learning about how advertising manipulates. What is the next step for Coles? Will they require our children to watch a tv commercial in exchange for sport equipment? Where does this go next? Will there be product placement? Will they be able to write the curriculum? I think this advertising should be banned as much as possible in the school environment and as a journalist you have the opportunity in the media to fight for the right ethical grounding. The problem is far more grave than wasted paper, it is also the manipulation and exploitation of our education system and our children's welfare.
So many silly, time consuming promotions to gain prominence for their name when each store could have a budget to lend a hand to their local schools.