Dodge, General Mills team for promo

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General Mills and DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s Dodge Division will partner for a major Nascar promotion that helps each of the marketers reach out to consumers in a new venue.

Although final details are still being negotiated, the "Dodge Countdown to Daytona" promotion will give General Mills exposure in Dodge dealerships while the carmaker gains a presence in grocery stores.

The effort, which begins in mid-January and continues through the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, centers on Dodge's previously announced return to Nascar in 2001 after a 15-year hiatus. Although General Mills has been involved with Nascar since 1996, its new effort to leverage its own team sponsorship and Dodge's return to racing will be its largest by far, extending beyond Nascar's southeastern stronghold to a national platform for the first time.


"We know from [research] that at least half of our company volume comes from households that are interested in Nascar," said Laurie Greeno, VP-director of General Mills Motorsports. "We also know that Nascar fans are phenomenally loyal and feel a responsibility to support their sport," she said, adding that"72% of fans' purchase behavior is always or frequently influenced by whether a product is a sponsor of Nascar."

Because of the fanatical interest in the sport and the big news of Dodge's return, General Mills will tout the promotion on more than 30 million packages of its top brands, among them Cheerios, Wheaties and Chex cereals as well as Hamburger Helper and Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix. Cereal package fronts will each feature drivers from one of 10 teams newly supplied with souped-up Dodge Intrepids, among them Cheerios/Betty Crocker team driver John Andretti on Cheerios boxes and Dodge team driver Bill Elliott on Wheaties.

The front panel of more than 10 million packages of Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Wheaties and Golden Grahams will feature clear windows that display free die-cast versions of some of the new Dodge Racing Team cars. Other brand packages will feature free mail-in offers for additional Dodge die-cast cars, trading cards or other Dodge-themed offers.


General Mills will tag existing TV spots for the participating cereal brands in January with 10-second spots that tout the free cars inside. In addition, the company will feature the promotion on its own site ( as well as on Dodge's site ( It also plans Nascar-themed displays in more than 15,000 retail locations, including Chrysler Caravan minivans filled with samples of General Mills' products at stores. Local Dodge dealers will be able to demonstrate the minivans' new remote control features to moms.

For its part, Dodge receives space on portions of the back panels of General Mills' packages to tout the "Countdown" promotion and feature Dodge brands such as the Intrepid and Caravan. Dodge will support the promotion and all its vehicles in advertising that breaks in January. BBDO Worldwide's Troy, Mich., office currently handles Dodge's national and regional dealer accounts but, by January, the accounts will be handled by the agency's soon-to-be-created PentaMark Worldwide.

General Mills and Dodge will likely partner for tie-ins at Dodge dealerships, with sampling of General Mills products and sweepstakes offering car and food product giveaways, among other things. Trackside at Nascar events, Dodge will have areas featuring interactive displays and show cars as well as samples of General Mills products.

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