Dallas-based 7-Eleven is turning this summer season into all things Slurpee as it ties promotions for the iconic frozen beverage into everything from blockbuster movies and videogames to online Web contests and concert tours.
The barrage of promotions are also pairing the Slurpee with comic books, sports personalities, social networking, teen film-making competitions and street teams with a fleet of giant Slurpee-mobiles equipped with giant television screens.
Apart from that, the Slurpee summer is rife with the usual crazy names, cool cups and radio spots.
7-Eleven introduced the frozen drink in 1967 with an immediate coolness quotient for its fledgling product with flavor names like “Fulla Bulla,” “For Adults Only” and “Kiss Me, You Fool.” The product launched in psychedelic-colored cups appealing to the “peace and love” generation, and was promoted through creative radio commercials so zany that deejays played them for free after they were deluged with listeners’ requests.
As today’s beverage-consuming public has broadened its taste and technology preferences, however, so too has the Slurpee, shifting its focus to reach the trend-setting 18-to-34-year-old core audience.
According to Slurpee and Big Gulp Brand Manager Jay Wilkins (or as he prefers, “Category Manager of Fun”), when it comes to the 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 this month, 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. It includes everything from 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, sampling Slurpee drinks on boardwalks and beaches, original Slurpee films on YouTube.com and online contests to win videogames, game consoles and more.
The salvo of Slurpee sensations this summer:
Slurpee Goes to the Movies …
In recent years, 7-Eleven has partnered with movies featuring X-Men, Superman, Fantastic 4, Incredible Hulk and … is Homer Simpson a superhero? This April, Paramount Studios’ “Iron Man,” starring Robert Downey Jr., began the warm-weather string of Slurpee promotions. “The Incredible Hulk,” from Universal Studios, blasted into 7-Eleven stores in June. Both Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk are 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 superhero 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, 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, weatherproof 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)
Says the Slurpee promo: “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 Web site. 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 partnered in May with Activision to promote Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. The wildly popular videogame franchise has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide since its 2005 introduction. In an online instant-win contest, 7-Eleven 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. Sure to cause Brainfreeze – 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 means football, and Madden is the biggest name in sports-themed videogames. 7-Eleven opens up football season with a pumped-up promotion in celebrati
on 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 cards with Madden player ratings, Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football special edition and NFL Highlights DVDs, along with Slurpee drinks in premium football-theme Slurpee cups. 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.
It’s About Times
This summer, a Slurpee frozen beverage hits the big screen at 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 and gave away Slurpee Frisbees, beach balls, blankets, t-shirts and baseball caps. 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,” Wilkins said. “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.”