LEVER'S SURF & STUFF: DETERGENT BRAND VENTURES INTO FREQUENT-USER REWARDS TACTIC

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Lever bros. is following the lead of airline and credit card marketers by introducing the first- ever frequent-purchase rewards promotion for detergent.

Building on Surf's positioning as the brand for people who dread wash day, Lever Bros. is now rewarding customers with points redeemable for entertainment products and Surf-theme apparel.

There's no contradiction in turning laundry haters into label-clipping brand loyalists, said Sanjay Patel, associate brand manager.

"If I'm going to have to do [laundry] anyway, I might as well get rewarded," he explained. "No other brand is doing that."

USER-FRIENDLY

Since the laundry-averse are also likely to despise the hassles of redemption programs, Surf's program tries to be user-friendly.

No retail receipts are required with purchases of Surf powder, just Universal Product Codes. Receipts are required if the consumer bought Surf liquid.

A national free-standing newspaper insert launched the program Dec. 1; rewards catalogs are included in Surf packages currently shipping into supermarkets. Integrated Marketing Group, Harrison, N.Y., is administering the program.

Labels from eight 33-use boxes of Surf powder with bleach are needed to earn a T-shirt emblazoned with humorous comments about doing laundry, with the quirky humor and comic strip-like graphics of Surf's ad campaign themed "It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it."

Other Surf prizes available in exchange for points include a cap, beach towel, radio, inflatable "electric" guitar and Sony Discman CD player (for 70 Surf boxes).

Consumers whose points don't reach such heights can supplement them with cash to acquire the item.

The promotion runs through December 1997.

Since its debut last February, Surf's ad campaign via Ogilvy & Mather, New York, has helped the brand build an 11% volume gain, compared with 5% category growth, Mr. Patel said.

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