Hershey Foods Corp., General Mills and Nabisco have teamed up on the promotion by offering coupons redeemable for one bowling game on specially marked packages of certain products.
Each product carries a toll-free "Bowling Hot Line" directing consumers to the nearest participating center; more than 4,000 bowling alleys are participating.
THE LURE OF `KINGPIN'
Another lure for consumers will be teaser ads from MGM's "Kingpin," which will be broadcast inside most participating bowling centers starting July 1. The film, debuting July 12, stars Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid and Bill Murray.
The goal: to get new and current bowlers to visit the centers, where they will encounter additional product promotion and tie-ins. The promotion amounts to 50 million free games, backed by massive in-store and local support, bringing the effort's total estimated value to $21 million.
"Bowling is all about hanging out, which is why bowling centers have become an important part of many local communities, and marketers are looking for exactly that kind of local marketing opportunity to reach consumers," said Tom Whitehead, a principal with Merrill & Whitehead, Chalfont, Pa., which created the U.S. Bowling Marketing Board to help bowling centers link up with marketers.
Mr. Whitehead's group estimates more than 80 million bowlers are likely to participate in the summerlong promotion.
In order to obtain the coupons, consumers must purchase multipacks of Hershey, Kit Kat and Reese's chocolate bars; individual packages of Nabisco's Parkay; and any one of General Mills' Betty Crocker instant side dishes.
Packages carrying the promotion first hit stores last month, but General Mills' products don't arrive in stores until Sept. 1.