WARREN, Pa. -- Five years in and counting, Kwik Fill's annual summer contest continues to evolve, further pumping up its participation and popularity each year.
"While the basic components of our summer marketing campaigns have remained the same, we've been working to increase customer -- and employee -- involvement each year," explained Lance Pangborn, advertising director at United Refining Co. "We hoped that increasing the value and appeal of the prize pool, as well as adding enticing employee incentives, would help with that effort."
Warren, Pa.-based United Refining Co. operates more than 290 Kwik Fill/Red Apple stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Through the retailer's efforts this summer, customer entries more than doubled from 2012. An improved web presence, increased use of social media and an expanded event marketing schedule also played a role in improving customer involvement this year.
"Our mobile event team was on the road all summer displaying at two events in each of our major markets: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton, N.Y., and Erie and west central, Pa.," Pangborn said.
One lucky New York State couple, Jody and Leigh Iannone from Maine, N.Y., won a car in the 2013 Kwik Fill Free Ride Tour and Sweepstakes.
Each summer, Kwik Fill's campaign runs from late May through early September, and contains two main elements: an enter-to-win sweepstakes and a supporting mobile marketing event schedule. Vendor sponsorships help provide the prizes for the sweepstakes, and the purchase of those vendors' products become an entry method for consumers. The mobile marketing events are used to promote the vendor partners, as well as the sweepstakes, and engage customers in the campaign.
To enter this year, customers received a 2013 Kwik Fill Free Ride Sweepstakes game card with the purchase of select vendors' products. The game card contained a scratch area for instant prizes and another scratch area for a code that allowed one entry at the chain's website. Customers also had three ways to enter without a purchase: online at the Kwik Fill Facebook page, using an iPad tablet at the Kwik Fill display during mobile events, and by mail-in request.
Along with the instant prizes -- including Kwik Fill gift cards, GPS units and iPad tablets -- customers also registered to win one of 10 VIP Weekend Getaway packages. Those 10 winners and their guests then gathered for a drawing to see which one of the 10 grand prizes they would take home.
Pangborn said that although this sweepstakes model is a bit more complicated than some other giveaways, it affords the opportunity to award the grand prizes in front of an audience at what he calls the Grand Prize Finale Weekend. "We bring the 10 grand-prize finalists -- along with their guests, our vendor representatives and various Kwik Fill personnel -- to a fabulous weekend at a centrally located resort, and on the second night, the finalists participate in a random drawing to see which of the 10 grand prizes they will win," he explained.
In early September, the grand-prize finalists randomly selected one of 10 colored gift boxes containing a different grand prize. Each finalist opened his or her box to see whether it contained such prizes as a gift card for $2,500 in gas, a $5,000 trip for two, keys to a 2013 John Deere Gator or keys to a 2014 Mustang GT.
"Besides the sales benefits of our summer campaigns, it's hard to describe how much fun we have watching our customers open these boxes and seeing their reactions" said Peter Conley, vice president of Kwik Fill.
Now that this summer's promotion is concluded, Pangborn is working on next year's campaign, the 2014 Kwik Fill Driving America Tour and Sweepstakes.