Marketing experts say a raft of such promotions are in the works for next year, as home computers have reached the saturation point among upscale families and package-goods marketers are learning to harness that power.
"Giving away software and CD-ROMs has become a very effective way for premium food brands to target upscale homes with computers and kids-it's an automatic fit," said Howard Steinberg, president of Westport, Conn.-based Source Marketing, the agency handling Kraft Foods' upcoming Post cereal CD-ROM promotion with the Learning Co.
Major marketers are taking a variety of routes to designing computer software promotions and giveaways, and many disagree on the role of the software content.
BRAND ELEMENT CRUCIAL
"Giving away a popular CD-ROM is a fine thing to do, but it's a missed marketing opportunity if there's no brand element included in the game or the software program," said Dori Molitor, president of Minneapolis agency WatersMolitor, which developed General Mills' customized Chex Quest CD-ROM game given away earlier this year inside 6 million boxes of Chex cereal.
The client deemed the promotion highly successful, largely because it grabbed attention and leveraged Chex's brand name within the game in an interesting way, said a General Mills spokeswoman.
Cadbury Schweppes' Mott's apple sauce and apple juice products this month launched their second promotion offering consumers a free educational software program consisting of an original customized game, this time called The Prince & the Prankster: The Quest for the Magical Seeds.
The game is "fruit-themed," based on the pursuit of fruit seeds and keeping the focus on the Mott's brand, a spokeswoman said.
Ryan Partnership, Westport, handled Cadbury's promotion, which provides one free game with the purchase of three Mott's products.
Taking yet another tack, last month Campbell Soup Co. teamed with Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Interactive for the software division's first-ever promotional tie-in with a package-goods marketer. The promotion offers a free sampler of three Winnie the Pooh CD-ROM educational titles with the purchase of eight cans of Campbell's soup.
Touted on-pack and through a national free-standing insert, the promotion already has yielded "incredible" results, said Kevin Lowery, director of public information at Campbell. He attributed its success primarily to the power of Winnie the Pooh and Disney.
"I'm not sure if this would have been successful if it had simply been any CD-ROM-it's the entertainment power of the names involved that's driving this," Mr. Lowery said.
The sampler consists of snippets from Disney CD-ROMs Ready to Read With Pooh, Winnie the Pooh Print Studio and the recently released title Ready for Math With Pooh.
DISNEY PLANS MORE PROMOTIONS
"This is a real watershed for us, and we hope to do many more such package-goods promotions to expose families to our new game titles and brands," said a Disney spokeswoman.
Disney would not release details but suggested that other package-goods marketers are preparing to launch similar promotions next year giving Disney additional exposure for new and upcoming CD-ROM titles.
The promotion, handled in-house, runs through Oct. 31 and includes a $10 discount on any Disney Interactive software title.
Kraft Foods' Post hopes to drive repeat purchases of its cereals with a major CD-ROM promotion launching Oct. 1.
The company will give consumers a free full-length CD-ROM worth $40 in exchange for eight Post product proofs-of-purchase, or $8 plus three proofs. Among the titles consumers can get are Reader Rabbit, Amazon Trail and Compton's Interactive Cookbook.
Kraft is promoting its CD-ROM offer on-pack, at the point of purchase and with advertising in Parade magazine. Additional CD-ROM titles appeal to families and kids, including Key Greeting Card Designer, Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia and Math Muncher's Deluxe. The promotion runs through Dec. 31.
"Consumers want some real value, and a $40 CD-ROM a family would otherwise buy is a powerful lure," Mr. Steinberg said, asking, "What's the point if it's a