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    TECHNOLOGY: Campbell Strikes Gold With Online Education Program

    A souped-up, online version of the Campbell Soup Co.’s venerable “Labels for Education” (LFE) program, which bowed in Kroger stores, has earned the manufacturer and MARS Advertising a Gold REGGIE Award for shopper marketing from PMA, the Association for Integrated Marketing.

    A souped-up, online version of the Campbell Soup Co.’s venerable “Labels for Education” (LFE) program, which bowed in Kroger stores, has earned the manufacturer and MARS Advertising a Gold REGGIE Award for shopper marketing from PMA, the Association for Integrated Marketing.

    Through its LFE program, Campbell has supported schools throughout the United States for over 30 years by helping them obtain educational resources they might not otherwise be able to afford, including computers, recess equipment and musical instruments. In the program’s traditional form, parents, students and the community clip and collect UPCs from the labels of eligible Campbell products and redeem them for the items.

    To update the program, Campbell and MARS joined with Kroger to take LFE online, directly engaging target households and making it easier to collect LFE points. The online program, “e-Labels for Education,” enables participants to electronically collect LFE points through shopper card purchases at Kroger banner stores. Participants register online and designate the school to which they’d like to have their product points apply. After that, every time a shopper uses a Kroger shopper’s card to buy a qualifying LFE product, points are automatically accumulated in the shopper’s e-Labels account. The digital technology platform to link purchases of qualifying products and convert them to LFE points was developed by Brisbane, Calif.-based YOU Technology, the company that also hosts the e-Labels for Education Web site.

    The Kroger E-Labels program launched with a ‘soft launch’ in August 2008, and the full set of communications activities kicked off in September, according to Liesl Henderson, director sales communications at Campbell.

    “We chose Kroger for a variety of reasons, including the national scope of its stores, high shopper loyalty and strong loyalty card usage,” explains Henderson. “In addition, Kroger was very enthusiastic about doing the test and was keen to be part of the effort to update what many consider to be an iconic program.”

    “The e-Labels program gave us the opportunity to expand the reach of LFE by engaging new consumers and communicating more effectively with our existing LFE community,” notes Anne Pizarro Sagel, senior manager integrated marketing and director of LFE at Camden, N.J.-based Campbell. Sagel added that the effort “helped strengthen our connection to Kroger shoppers.”

    By the close of the six-month trial period in January 2009, 35 percent of e-Label users were first-time LFE participants, and over one-third of the designated schools were new to the LFE program. Additionally, 22 percent of e-Label users had no children living at home, indicating that relatives, friends and neighbors were supporting schools via e-Labels.

    “This is a perfect example of how a valuable equity like the Labels for Education program and a great retailer can partner to achieve their collective objectives by focusing on what is important to the shopper,” says Bill Haveron, director, shopper marketing, at Southfield, Mich.-based MARS. “E-Labels helped re-energize Labels for Education and make it more relevant to today’s consumers, while at the same time [providing] an easier way for Kroger’s time-starved shoppers to support their community.”

    Since the close of the trial period, “[p]articipation has slowed somewhat, driven in part by the reduced funding around communications,” notes Henderson. However, even with very little communication, the number of participants continues to grow based on word of mouth and grass-roots/viral marketing. Ongoing online communications include marketing on school Web sites and chatter among LFE coordinators and mommy bloggers.

    Campbell is “currently working closely with several other retailers to roll out the e-Labels program,” she adds, although further details were not yet available.

    The annual REGGIE Awards recognize the year’s best promotions and integrated marketing campaigns. The name derives from “cash register,” with the idea that the register rings as the result of an effective marketing campaign. The 2009 REGGIEs were presented at a special ceremony in March, as a part of PMA’s annual integrated marketing conference in Chicago.

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