General Mills, Get Music had shoppers dancing in the aisles.
Out to generate traffic in cyberspace and cereal sales in stores, Internet music portal GetMusic and CPG giant General Mills last fall collaborated on a promotional duet worthy of the Billboard charts.
Minneapolis-based General Mills was out to bump cereal sales during a period in which the category as a whole was declining. GetMusic, the Internet child of New York City-based Universal Music Group and BMG Entertainment, was looking to strengthen its brand identity amidst the backlash against Internet businesses. The dot-com company lacked an offline presence and was craving a big-name partner to help drive new users to its site.
The companies got together and developed an on-pack premium offer designed to achieve both sets of objectives. The pitch for a free music CD at getmusic.com ran on 80 million General Mills cereal boxes across 11 brands. Eight different “Gotta Get It Hits” CD compilations covering the teen pop, adult pop, jazz, R&B, country, holiday, classical, and alternative genres were put together to appeal to music lovers of all ages and tastes. Each CD contained 10 songs from BMG and Universal artists including such top stars as Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, Sting, and Vince Gill.
“Almost everyone eats cereal. And almost everyone listens to music,” says General Mills promotion manager Cheryl Moser, discussing the partnership fit. “This was a good way for us to deliver value across our customer base.”
Music “listening stations” were set up in thousands of grocery stores so shoppers could sample the tracks from the CDs before purchase. Several retailers pitched in by advertising the offer in store circulars and setting up special end-cap cereal displays.
Each cereal box heralded the offer on the front panel, with some brands running eye-catching foil-embossed graphics. The offer was detailed on the back. Inside boxes were individual redemption codes consumers used to register at getmusic.com for their free CDs. (A $2.99 shipping and handling fee was charged). The CDs were mailed within a month.
Online, GetMusic’s home page prominently featured the promotion, detailing the General Mills offer and providing songs from the CDs for download sampling.
General Mills supported with a full media blitz. National TV spots announced the offer and highlighted some of the key artists (which gave a publicity bump to Universal and BMG). Radio spots and national FSIs expanded reach. A p.r. campaign gained media mentions and 10 million consumer impressions. (General Mills sent media kits to 1,000 journalists containing information about the program, one of the CDs, and descriptions of the artists and songs.)
The compilations “allowed us to pull in different types of customers,” says GetMusic president and ceo Andrew Nibley. “We didn’t go after just one demographic.”
The low purchase requirement struck a sweet chord with shoppers. Rival CD offers from other brands in market at about the same time required more activity or more money. (For instance, a concurrent Pepsi Music program required consumers to buy more than $30 worth of product to get a five-song CD, a 7-Up campaign offered customers a one-in-12 chance of winning a seven-song CD, and a Pizza Hut initiative served a free CD with $10 purchase.)
Like the actual premiums, the overall campaign rocked. Hundreds of thousands of CDs were shipped out by GetMusic, which gained the exposure it needed by redeeming the CD offer at its site. Getmusic.com’s ranking among online music destinations has risen dramatically — it’s now the No. 2 Web portal behind leader mtv.com. Thousands of cereal shoppers have been returning as regular visitors.
General Mills, meanwhile, moved all 22,000 pallets of product it was hoping to get into stores. And cereal sales rose six percent during the promotional period, according to Nielsen data. “This ended up being the largest promotion ever for General Mills cereals,” says Moser. “We achieved all of our sales goals.”
That’s music to any marketer’s ears.
Cheryl Moser, General Mills
Andrew Nibley, GetMusic