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Viceroy Hits The Jackpot: Hong Kong cigarette market adopts new promotion techniques

In the past three years, consumer promotions have become an increasingly important marketing tool. This is particularly so in the competitive Hong Kong cigarette market. One of the most active brands is R. J. Reynolds' Winston, with over ten major promotions in 18 months. B. A. T. (Hong Kong) has also stepped up its activities. With Viceroy, the dominant market leader in Hong Kong, the company has been careful not to down-grade the brand image through too many consumer promotions, selecting and scheduling only those which help maintain the right leader image. At all times emphasis is on quality not quantity. In 1977, Viceroy was promoted most successfully through the "Win a flat" draw which achieved a 3.6% volume increase. Sales have remained at this level ever since. Competition started cashing in on the lucky draw formula and it wasn't long before the market became saturated. Research showed that competitions most likely to succeed are those which offer consumers the chance to find out at the time and point of purchase if they have won. One of the most effective ways is the on-pack lottery. Earlier this year, our associates in Hong Kong launched a large-scale Jackpot promotion, using the current fruit machine craze as its theme. Because of an agreement between local cigarette companies not to tamper with cigarette packs for promotional purposes, BAT used coupons, or game tickets, shaped like fruit machines. These gave consumers the chance to win several top prizes every time they bought a pack of Viceroy. The top half of each ticket featured seven winning combinations and the prize for each one. Below, was a panel consisting of nine squares covered in silver paint which, when rubbed off, revealed certain symbols. All the consumer had to do was rub off the paint with a coin to see if the symbols matched the winning combinations. A hot-line telephone was set up to handle enquiries. Prizes were specially selected to attract younger smokers - target consumers for Viceroy and competitive brands. These included three BMW-320 air-conditioned cars; four 19 oz. gold bars; 200 radio cassette recorders; 200 pocket calculators; 1, 000 electronic digital watches; and 2, 800 automatic cameras, plus hundreds of special prizes. The novelty value of the 'rub and win" game proved extremely popular. Other factors contributing to the overall success:
1. Its instant nature
2. Belief in its fairness
3. The fun and excitement linked with rubbing the ticket
4. The good chances of winning
5. The comprehensive advertising support programme
6. Free entry. In the highly competitive Hong Kong environment, the pace of life is super fast. Waiting for a prize, even just a week, can prove a big handicap in promotions. Consumer interest dies quickly. However, the instant nature of the Jackpot lottery meant that consumers didn't have to wait to find out if they had won. Because all game tickets were distributed to cigarette retail outlets there was no question about draws being rigged? It was up to the consumer to try his luck and pick the ticket. The result had nothing to do with the manufacturer and was therefore seen as being perfectly fair. There is an inherent attraction in any rub and win game due to the excited anticipation which builds up until the last spot is exposed. With every ticket, consumers had four chances to win and since the tickets were offered free of charge to buyers of Viceroy consumers were more inclined to take part. In order to maintain and build a high level of interest and awareness throughout the eight-week promotion our associates sought to ensure that everyone stood a fair chance of winning. With over 200 million tickets involved, it was quite a job producing good odds within a limited budget. In addition to the main prizes, some 700, 000 discount coupons were introduced from a major department store and a photo finishing company. While these did not increase the overall prize money, they greatly improved the odds to 1: 22. Consumers therefore stood a good chance of winning an attractive prize even if they didn't manage to get one of the top prizes. During the promotion all advertising and display support for Viceroy switched to the promotion. The message was carried on TV, radio and press. Special merchandising material included leaflets, posters and holders for the game tickets. With display space at a premium in Hong Kong retail outlets, it was essential to make a big impact in very limited space and displaying tickets in strips with the ticket hangers helped meet this need. Emphasis was put on the fun aspect of the promotion and the range of valuable prizes. Indeed, one of the main factors in the early success of the promotion in terms of awareness and consumer interest was the lively fun nature of the TV campaign and its catchy jingle. Details of how to enter and what to do were kept to a minumum in the advertising copy as full details appeared on the back of each ticket. The promotion began with a teaser on TV, moving into radio and the press once it was underway. Many consumers in Hong Kong still do not believe that valuable prizes are given away fairly. In order to convince them, 'live' draws were covered by TV and the press, giving winners' names, addresses and identity card numbers. A comprehensive public relations campaign was also developed to feature winnners receiving their prizes.


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