“Then comes the fun part,” says Jay Wilkins, Slurpee and Big Gulp brand manager, “finding the properties and promotions that support the flavors and score high on the Slurpee cool-o-meter. This summer is the biggest ever, in terms of the most Slurpee promotions we’ve ever had.”
Supporting Slurpee’s 2008 summer flavor line-up requires a host of communications efforts across the media spectrum to reach Slurpee drinkers, and not all of it through traditional outlets. That might mean rip-and-run tear-away posters in one city, playing giant videogames on a Slurpee van with a 6- by 12-foot side-panel screen at a 7-Eleven store in another, sampling Slurpee drinks on boardwalks and beaches, original Slurpee films on YouTube.com, and online contests to win videogames, game consoles, and more.
Besides Slurpee, summertime means big-budget blockbuster movies and super-heroes with which Slurpee seems to have a special affinity. In recent years, 7-Eleven. Inc. has partnered with movies featuring X-Men, Superman, Fantastic 4, and the Incredible Hulk.
This April, Paramount Studios’ Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr., began the string of Slurpee promotions. The Incredible Hulk from Universal Studios, written by its star, Edward Norton, comes to 7-Eleven stores in June. Both Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk are popular Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee.
Besides cool 3-D cups with scenes lifted from each picture and Slurpee straws with detachable characters, Marvel Comics created a special-edition Incredible Hulk comic book, available exclusively at 7-Eleven. Both movies’ websites have links on www.slurpee.com. Observant audience members might spy a 7-Eleven storefront in the movie, and not-so-observant fans of the Super Hero won’t be able to miss the life-size Incredible Hulk character lurking at the Slurpee machine.
7-Eleven customers are on the go and on the street–in their cars, on their Vespas, skateboards, bikes, and feet. To meet them where they are, the convenience retailer has street teams driving around select U.S. cities in rock ‘n’ roll Slurpee-mobiles, i.e., vehicles with giant video screens to play larger-than-life Guitar Hero games. “Rock ‘n’ roll Never Sleeps” is emblazoned on the side.
Rip-and-run Guitar Hero-Full Throttle posters are posted at almost 500 urban locations this month. Pads of 10 tear-off, weather-proof posters are strategically placed near schools, skate parks, sports arenas, and stadiums. They’re there for the taking, while supplies last.
Monster energy drink has gained a cult-like following since its 2002 introduction. The top-selling 16-ounce energy drink eschews traditional advertising and has built its brand through viral marketing and sponsorships of extreme athletes and music artists. The collectible cups, created for the exclusive Slurpee Monster flavor, Black Ice, will be monster big (32-ounce) with cool 3-D graphics of the Monster jagged claw logo and black dome lids. After numerous efforts, Monster’s graphics team was able to create a special “M” claw logo that suggests the icy coldness of a Slurpee drink. Sure to cause Brainfreeze are the first-ever aluminum Slurpee straws. The colorful tubes also have an extra-wide radius to ensure the fastest slurping.
This summer, a Slurpee frozen beverage hits the big screen Times Square, appearing on the CBS Super Screen on 42nd Street. This is the first time 7-Eleven has advertised any of its products on the famous electronic billboard.
During spring break, Slurpee brand ambassadors cruised the beaches at Daytona with drink samples and prizes–giving away Slurpee Frisbees, beach balls, blankets, t-shirts, and baseball caps. Activities included Slurpee sampling on pool decks during radio station remotes, Frisbee-throwing, bobbing for Slurpee, and Brainfreeze contests.
“This promises to be the biggest Slurpee season ever,” Wilkins says. “In our very first big promotion of the year, Iron Man cups sold out of the distribution centers serving U.S. 7-Eleven stores in the first two weeks. The Iron Man helmet mug was quickly offered on eBay at up to three times our suggested retail price. While we’ve created a summer of fun to appeal to teens and young adults, our core customers, we know Slurpee has cross-generational appeal. After all, Slurpee has been around more than 40 years, and has built its reputation by delivering flavor, fun and, of course, cool.”