Saluting Our Soldiers
By Joseph Tarnowski
IGA and Wounded Warrior Project launch a private brand cause-marketing event.
This past May, the Independent Grocer Alliance (IGA) joined forces with charity foundation Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to create IGA USA's first IGA private brand cause-marketing initiative. During this national campaign – which is running in participating IGA stores from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend – Chicago-based IGA will donate 10 cents from the sale of every specially marked case of IGA brand water to WWP, an organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.
"For more than 80 years now, IGA retailers have been building the brand's reputation by doing their part to give back and support worthy causes in the communities they serve," says Dave Bennett, IGA SVP of procurement and private brands. "It is only natural that we would use the power of our IGA private brand line to align IGA and its retailers with the causes that matter to today's consumer on a national level as well."
IGA hopes to have donated up to $100,000 to WWP by the fall. Following is a look at three IGA grocers who are helping to reach that goal, and how they're doing it:
Kishman's IGA, Minerva, Ohio
As luck would have it, one of Kishman's customers – who happens to be a professor at Kent State University – read one of the stories. One of her students is a wounded veteran who just happened to be a WWP spokesman. He offered to work with the grocer to spread the word, and also attended the community's homecoming event, for which Kishman's built a parade float.
According to the Kishmans, the homecoming organizers were so excited to learn that they would have wounded warriors on the float that they moved the Kishman's float up to the front of the pack. When the parade finished, the veterans also manned the Kishman's homecoming booth, spreading the news about WWP and handing out IGA bottled water.
Bailey's General Store IGA, Sanibel Island, Fla.
The Johnsons are always trying to find interesting things to do in the front of the store to drive traffic, and when they serendipitously spotted a 1943 Ford-manufactured Army Jeep at a recent community parade, light bulbs went off in both of their heads. The jeep belonged to a friend of the Johnsons, who was happy for it to be used in the WWP promotion. "We literally backed the Jeep in through our front doors, and then surrounded it with a wall of Wounded Warrior Project IGA water and signage," says Mead Johnson.
There was so much interest in the Jeep from community members that Bailey's decided to match the 10-cent donation from every case sold. "So now 20 cents from every case sold in our store is going directly to Wounded Warrior Project, and we couldn't be happier with the support we've gotten from our community," notes Mead Johnson. "There's no doubt that people are choosing the IGA water over other brands, and we're thrilled to see it."
Mahomet IGA, Mahomet, Ill.
To determine the best way to do this, Marsh met with a number of local vets, including a retired general who lives in the area, and together they brainstormed on the project. They came up with a huge, daylong parking lot event that included everything from a cookout – with proceeds going to the local American Legion – to a flag-burning ceremony to honorably dispose of worn-out flags, to even bringing in a Black Hawk helicopter, which was achieved via the general's Pentagon contacts.
To generate excitement for the event, as well as to show the grocer's support for local veterans, Marsh posted photos of local vets in the store during the month leading up to the event. Once the photos were up, he began publicizing the veterans' tribute in the local paper and on the company's Facebook page to generate buzz. "In no time at all, the whole town was talking about it," says Marsh.
The event was kicked off with the flag disposal, during which the local American Legion ceremonially burned more than 450 worn-out flags brought by community members. Soon after that, the Black Hawk helicopter landed in the store parking lot to the joy of the several hundred people in attendance, as the troops who piloted the helicopter disconnected the electrical systems and let customers' children climb all over it for the rest of the afternoon.
"When we started all of this, we had no idea how important this tribute would be," says Marsh. "It was a wonderful day filled with laughter and tears, and we're really thankful that this great promotion gave us the opportunity to celebrate our local veterans in such a meaningful way."
570 Lake Cook Rd, Suite 310
Deerfield IL 60015
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