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In this case, “on the road” meant driving just a few miles to Stamford, Connecticut, where we had the opportunity to sit in on an event sponsored by the local chapter of the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA).

This particular event was help to highlight some of the winners of the organization’s “Reggie” awards, which recognize excellence in the promotion marketing field.

In this case, the two campaigns that were on display were for very different products: Purina’s Meow Mix cat food, and CBS-TV’s “Survivor” TV series.

And yet, we were struck by one similarity between the two campaigns – the ubiquity of the brands once the promotion efforts got underway.

In the case of Meow Mix, the company ran a nationwide contest in which people dressed up in weird costumes and sang even weirder (if that’s possible) renditions of the Meow Mix jingle. It’s not the kind of thing that appeals to us, but apparently thousands of people participated in contests coast-to-coast, the contest was hyped on radio stations all over the country and in retail locations, and they got Wayne Newton to host the finals.

As for “Survivor,” even if you don’t watch the show you probably are aware of what it is, and what kind of impact it has had on popular culture. And, according to the CBS spokesperson who addressed the group, the show was seen more as a promotion effort than TV show, and was developed to help promote the rest of CBS’s schedule. The promotional efforts were everywhere, and everybody was talking about “Survivor.”

The key, it seems to us, is that these two promotions went beyond the traditional boundaries where the products were seen, to reach out and grab consumers. Some call it “360-degree marketing”; others call it “marketing convergence.”

But the key, for anyone who wants to be really competitive in the 2002 marketplace (coming up shortly on 2003), is that simply building a store or product and waiting for people to find it ain’t enough. Especially retailers, faced with a level of competition rarely seen before, need to engage in ubiquitous warfare in order to get in the face of the consumer.
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