Slurpee(R): Keepin' Its Cool
Iconic Beverage Headlines 7-Eleven's Promo-Studded Summer
DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Summertime is Slurpee(R) season, the time of year when America's favorite frozen beverage 'gets its cool on' as it has since 7-Eleven(R) stores introduced the frozen carbonated drink 40-plus years ago. In those days, that meant crazy names, colorful cups and funny radio spots. Ah, if life were only that simple today. But that is so last century.
Fast-forward to 2008 when "Slurpee cool" translates to blockbuster movie and videogame tie-ins, online web contests, concert tours, comic books, sports personalities, social networking, teen film-making competitions and street teams with a fleet of giant TV screen-equipped Slurpee-mobiles. Oh, yeah, and crazy names, cool cups and radio spots.
When 7-Eleven stores introduced the frozen drink with the funny name in 1967, the company created an immediate coolness quotient for its fledgling product with flavor names like Fulla Bulla, For Adults Only and Kiss Me, You Fool; psychedelic-colored cups that appealed to the "peace and love" generation; and creative radio commercials so zany that deejays played them for free after deluged with listeners' requests. Today, as the beverage-consuming public has broadened its taste and technology preferences, so too has the Slurpee drink changed to reach its trend-setting 18-to-34-year-old core audience.
According to Slurpee and Big Gulp(R) Brand Manager Jay Wilkins (or as he prefers, Category Manager of Fun), when it comes to Slurpee, flavor always comes first.
"Bottom line, if the product doesn't meet expectations, all the cool promotions in the world won't keep customers coming back," Wilkins said. "So that's where we start, making sure we deliver at the Slurpee machine."
In today's beverage market that means energy, and this summer's Slurpee flavors all have an energy edge. The Slurpee season began with AMP Energy Freeze in April and Full Throttle Frozen Blast in May, guarana-spiked Radiation Rush coming in June, Monster Black Ice in July and a new sports-themed flavor in August.
"Then comes the fun part," Wilkins said, "finding the properties and promotions that support the flavors and score high on the Slurpee cool-o-meter. This summer is the biggest ever, in terms of the most Slurpee promotions we've ever had."
Supporting Slurpee's 2008 summer flavor line-up requires a host of communications efforts across the media spectrum to reach Slurpee drinkers, and not all of it through traditional outlets. That might mean rip-and-run tear-away posters in one city, playing giant videogames on a Slurpee van with a 6- by 12-foot side-panel screen at a 7-Eleven store in another, sampling Slurpee drinks on boardwalks and beaches, original Slurpee films on YouTube.com, and online contests to win videogames, game consoles and more.
Here's the down-low on this year's Slurpee season:
Slurpee Goes to the Movies – Take Two
Besides Slurpee, summertime means big-budget blockbuster movies, and super-heroes with which Slurpee seem to have a special affinity. In recent years, 7-Eleven, Inc. has partnered with movies featuring X-Men, Superman, Fantastic 4, Incredible Hulk and ... uh, is Homer Simpson a super hero?
This April, Paramount Studios' Iron Man starring, Robert Downey Jr., began the warm-weather string of Slurpee promotions. The Incredible Hulk from Universal Studios, written by its star, Edward Norton, blasts into 7-Eleven stores in June. Both Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk are popular Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee.
Besides cool 3-D cups with scenes lifted from each picture and Slurpee straws with detachable characters, Marvel Comics created a special-edition Incredible Hulk comic book, available exclusively at 7-Eleven. Both movies' websites have links on www.slurpee.com. Observant audience members might spy a 7-Eleven storefront in the movie, and not-so-observant fans of the Super Hero won't be able to miss the life-size Incredible Hulk character lurking at the Slurpee machine.
Gaining Street Cred
7-Eleven customers are on the go and on the street – in their cars, on their Vespas, skateboards, bikes and feet. To meet them where they are, the convenience retailer has street teams driving around select U.S. cities in rock 'n' roll Slurpee-mobiles, i.e., vehicles with giant video screens to play larger-than-life Guitar Hero games. "Rock 'n' roll Never Sleeps" is emblazoned on the side.
Rip-and-run Guitar Hero-Full Throttle posters are posted at almost 500 urban locations this month. Pads of 10 tear-off, weather-proof posters are strategically placed near schools, skate parks, sports arenas and stadiums. They're there for the taking, while supplies last.
Slurpee Nation @ www.slurpee.com
"We are vast. Diverse. And as colorful as a rainbow Slurpee. ... We are energetic. We are forever. And, we are thirsty. ... We extend our ice-cold hand with pride ... to that special band of individuals known as Slurpee Nation." That's what visitors see when they click on the Slurpee Nation tab on the new www.slurpee.com website. As part of the web redesign of the Slurpee website, this new community is being created where Slurpee-lovers can unite, chat, upload and download.
After the success of its two Halo videogame promotions in recent years, 7-Eleven, Inc. partnered in May with Activision to promote Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. The hugely popular Guitar Hero videogame franchise has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide since its introduction in 2005. In an online instant-win contest, 7-Eleven, Inc. gave away 744 Guitar Hero videogames (one every hour during May), Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles, plus 711,000 Microsoft Points to purchase merchandise from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Monster energy drink has gained a cult-like following since its 2002 introduction. The top-selling 16-ounce energy drink eschews traditional advertising and has built its brand through viral marketing and sponsorships of extreme athletes and music artists. The collectible cups, created for the exclusive Slurpee Monster flavor, Black Ice, will be monster big (32-ounce) with cool 3-D graphics of the Monster jagged claw logo and black dome lids. After numerous efforts, Monster's graphics team was able to create a special "M" claw logo that suggests the icy coldness of a Slurpee drink. The 3-D frozen claw looks like it could reach right off the cup and grab you. Brrr. Sure to cause Brainfreeze(R), maybe even throat or chest freeze, are the first-ever aluminum Slurpee straws. The colorful tubes also are Monster-size, with an extra-wide radius to ensure the fastest slurping.
Music: Slurpee Rocks
As part of its Monster campaign, the Slurpee drink will climb onto the Warped 2008 bandwagon. Sponsored by Vans shoes since 1995, the Warped tour is a multi-city series of mega-music and extreme sports events targeted to teens. 7-Eleven is taking its new Slurpee Nation-mobile on the road at the Warped tour, serving samples of the new Monster Black Ice Slurpee drink, the first Monster Energy drink in frozen form, available in 7-Eleven stores July 1.
LOL – Slurpee Uncommon Comedy Films
Slurpee is the title sponsor of the Uncommon Comedy Film contest, part of Samsung Mobile's Fresh Films teen film-maker project and the largest teen film program in the U.S. The national filmmaking program allows winning teens to get behind the camera as directors and make either a comedy, drama or action/thriller film-short in just seven days. Films premiere online and are judged by a celebrity jury and online viewers. The summer competition includes Slurpee machines on the film sets during shoots, coupons for online viewer-voters and maybe even a Slurpee sighting in the films.
August = Football, and Madden is the biggest name in sports-theme videogames. 7-Eleven opens up football season with a pumped-up promotion in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Madden NFL Football videogames from EA Sports and the release of Madden NFL 09.
7-Eleven will be making a big play that month with a new first-of-its-kind Slurpee.
A first for EA Sports and exclusive to 7-Eleven is an Xbox 360 playable demo DVD of the game available before its Aug. 12 release date. The Madden NFL 09 demo, which also includes 60 minutes of NFL highlights, will be free with the purchase of a Madden Meal deal.
Football fans can pick up the new Madden NFL 09 videogame at 7-Eleven stores on Aug. 12, the day the game is released in North America. Other related merchandise available includes exclusive Donruss football trading cards with Madden player ratings, the Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football special edition and NFL Highlights DVDs, along with their Slurpee drinks in premium football-theme Slurpee cups at participating 7-Eleven stores. Online contests include grand-prize tickets to Super Bowl XLIII, tickets to the Madden Bowl and a tour of EA Sports' Tiburon studio near Orlando where Madden NFL games are developed. Other prizes include videogames and tickets to sporting events.
It's About Times
This summer, a Slurpee frozen beverage hits the big screen Times Square, appearing on the CBS Super Screen on 42nd Street. This is the first time 7-Eleven has advertised any of its products on the famous electronic billboard.
Surf, Sand & Slurpee
During spring break, Slurpee brand ambassadors cruised the beaches at Daytona with drink samples and prizes – giving away Slurpee Frisbees, beach balls, blankets, t-shirts and baseball caps. Slurpee-rific activities included Slurpee sampling on pool decks during radio station remotes, Frisbee-throwing, bobbing for Slurpee and Brainfreeze contests.
"This promises to be the biggest Slurpee season ever," Wilkins said. "In our very first big promotion of the year, Iron Man cups sold out of the distribution centers serving U.S. 7-Eleven stores in the first two weeks. The Iron Man helmet mug was quickly offered on eBay at up to three times our suggested retail price. While we've created a summer of fun to appeal to teens and young adults, our core customers, we know Slurpee has cross-generational appeal. After all, Slurpee has been around more than 40 years, and has built its reputation by delivering flavor, fun and, of course, cool."
About 7-Eleven, Inc.
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas,
Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 7,600 7-Eleven(R) stores in North America.
Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 34,300 stores in 14 countries. During 2007, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $46.6 billion. Named the #1 Franchise Opportunity for 2008 by Entrepreneur magazine, 7-Eleven is franchising virtually all of its stores in the U.S., and is expanding through its Business Conversion Program, acquisitions, building new and leasing existing properties.