7-Eleven ran its first promotion with a comic- book-inspired blockbuster — “X-Men: The Last Stand” — three years ago. Since then, a string of successes, including promotions with “Spider-Man 3,” “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,” have goosed sales and delivered new customers. In 2008, 7-Eleven and its agency FreshWorks won Promo’s Best Overall Pro Award after transforming 12 stores into Kwik-E-Marts in a partnership with “The Simpsons Movie.” In April, the focus turns to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which opens May 1. Chief Marketer recently talked with Stephanie Hoppe, senior director of marketing at 7-Eleven, about the convenience store chain’s promotional strategies.
CHIEF MARKETER: How do you get buy-in from the 7,600 franchisees?
HOPPE: We have several national meetings that allow us to communicate the program to our field personnel, who have ongoing contact with our franchisees. Because we align ourselves with such strong properties, it is easy to gain buy-in; and we have a standard kit-delivery system that ensures all materials arrive consistently on a timely basis.
CM: What is the process for deciding on a partner film?
HOPPE: We have a very disciplined process that is confidential. A cross-functional team that includes marketing, merchandising, operations and FreshWorks makes the final decision on what properties best fit our brand and resonate with consumers.
CM: How do you measure the success of these partnerships?
HOPPE: Through sales results of focus items, such as Slurpee beverages and products themed with [the movie], as well as publicity surrounding the program. We also measure how we “elevate” the awareness of the brands of 7-Eleven and Slurpee in the eyes of consumers. One other metric is buzz, as that is an indication of the promotion’s “coolness” factor. So we monitor online activity and how many online mentions the promo generated.
CM: How are you marketing the “Wolverine” promotion?
HOPPE: The film will be prominently featured on our storefront and throughout our stores. We have created some fabulous P-O-P, as well as Slurpee character straws and lenticular Slurpee cups. The film will be promoted on our Slurpee Web site and at 7-Eleven.com, including a link to the trailer. Local promotional activities are planned, and we will support the program with radio in key markets.
X Marks the Spot
7-Eleven has partnered with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” for a month-long promotion that will include life-size standees of Wolverine, Sabretooth and Gambit watching over the shops.
Slurpee cups feature the three, especially notable since the beverage makes a brief appearance in the film starring Hugh Jackman. The character Blob is seen with one of the drinks in a size colossally bigger than any human has ever sipped.