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MARIE POPPY BUDGET RENT A CAR

By Published on .

Last summer, the travel industry was flat. Budget Rent A Car's Marie Poppy knew her company had to act fast.

After six months of declining industry sales, the VP-travel industry marketing, along with other executives, decided to launch a comprehensive integrated marketing campaign.

Executives knew they had to include a rate promotion, but they wanted theirs to be different from competitors'. Because it was the company's 35th anniversary, Ms. Poppy and her colleagues decided to tie that in.

"A lot of times with anniversary [campaigns], they talk about the company," says Ms. Poppy, 42. "What we looked at was a promotion where the customers get all the gifts."

Using a consolidated strategy involving traditional advertising, travel agent and employee incentives, point of sale, trade ads and direct mail, Budget launched a three-month, 35th-birthday promotion. It offered everything from 35-cent upgrades to $35-a-day minivans to 35% bonus commissions for travel agencies.

For additional publicity, the company announced it was awarding 350 free car rental days to charity organizations via an ad in USA Today.

The award-winning campaign enlisted the services of Robinson & Maites, Chicago, for promotional marketing; Ketchum Public Relations Worldwide, New York; and Tracy-Locke, Dallas, for advertising.

The promotion, which ran from mid-September to mid-December last year, increased consumer car rental reservations by 13% and travel agency bookings by 14% in September compared with the same period the year before.

"We knew advertising alone would not be sufficient enough to move the needle," says Ms. Poppy. "We wanted a synergistic effort ... with advertising supporting everything and everything complementing each other."

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