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ATLANTA — Is there anything hotter than summertime in the South? If you ask convenience store chain RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., the answer is “yes.”
Born and raised in the South, RaceTrac launched “It’s Always Summer in the South,” the company’s largest and “hottest” summer-focused marketing campaign to date.
With summer being the busiest season for RaceTrac, the c-store operator wanted to capitalize on this momentum, and its popular offerings such as Sodapalooza and Swirl World.
"It’s Always Summer in the South," however, isn’t just another traditional, run-of-the-mill campaign. RaceTrac worked with its agency partners, as well as R/GA Austin — the campaign’s lead strategy and creative agency — to develop a two-fold strategy that includes an “ownable” message to drive awareness of what makes RaceTrac special on standard channels and drive engagement outside of “just advertising promotions,” Jonathan Woytek, executive creative director at R/GA Austin, told Convenience Store News.
"It’s Always Summer in the South" comes to life through a fully integrated campaign that encompasses cinema, social, digital displays, and out-of-home (OOH) media — think billboards, streets, roads, highways, transit, etc.
A first for the convenience store industry, the centerpiece of the "It’s Always Summer in the South" campaign is a mockumentary content series. The series chronicles the humorous escapades of a RaceTrac employee and non-Southern film crew as they embark on an epic road trip across the South.
“While RaceTrac has run a campaign across several months, they have never used video as a core component of the campaign. This also worked in chorus with the focus on leveraging new channels and a greater emphasis on digital media,” Woytek explained.
According to Woytek, RaceTrac and R/GA Austin wanted to test out a “summer campaign” vs. a conventional Sodapalooza promotion campaign because it allows RaceTrac to talk about a variety of offers and products available during the summer months. “In the past, when Sodapalooza cups sold out early, we were left with little to talk about during the most critical travel months,” he noted.
During Sodapalooza — RaceTrac’s biggest yearly promotion — guests can purchase the refillable Sodapalooza cup from May 3 to July 31 for $11.99 and bring it in for free refills on any fountain soda, iced tea or frozen drink, and benefit from ongoing deals throughout the year.
“It’s a celebration of soda,” Woytek said, adding that in Georgia specifically, Sodapalooza cups had already almost sold out as of May 15.
Swirl World is available in select RaceTrac locations. The station has up to 10 self-serve flavors of frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet, along with up to 41 toppings, giving guests the ability to customize their frozen treats. “There are no other c-stores where you can get a cold, make-it-you-way summer treat like you can with RaceTrac Swirl World,” according to Woytek.
Throughout the month of June, offers will vary by state for Swirl World. In Georgia, an Atlanta Braves baseball helmet cup will be available for a flat rate of $5. In Louisiana and Florida, guests will be able to enjoy 79-cent cake cones, while in Dallas-Fort Worth, the cones will be available for 69 cents.
Anecdotally, the customer response so far to "It’s Always Summer in the South" has been positive, with “very positive” feedback on social media, the R/GA executive said.
The first 30-second trailer for RaceTrac’s mockumentary is garnering engagement. In the first week of launching it — May 3 to May 9 — the video had 103,103 total views, with total completed video views coming in at 9,520.
"Historically, summertime at RaceTrac has meant Sodapalooza freefills, but this year, we wanted to spread the love past the fountain and celebrate our brand and the variety of products we offer,” said RaceTrac Brand Director Jamie Rodgers. “Sodapalooza’s carbonated excitement in a cup has all of the makings of a perfect summer treat, and as we expanded our in-store offering to include other beat-the-heat products like Swirl World, we were ready to position RaceTrac as the perfect summer destination for our guests.”
“Because we have extended our summer messaging to be inclusive of all things summer, we are able to play in a space we haven’t previously had the chance to, thus came our digital video series. It’s visually amusing and allows us to really highlight our fun, summer-loving brand personality,” she added.
Spanning across RaceTrac’s four-state footprint — Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas — “It’s Always Summer in the South” is running now through July 31.