It only took one impromptu entry in the 2013 Kwik Fill Free Ride Tour and Sweepstakes to land a Binghamton, N.Y. area couple the car of their dreams.
Jody and Leigh Iannone from Maine, N.Y. are among the latest winners in what continues to be an increasingly popular summer marketing campaign for United Refining Company’s Kwik Fill/Red Apple chain. They proved that the “Win a Free Ride with Kwik Fill” sweepstakes slogan could truly happen. Looking back on the five annual programs Kwik Fill has executed thus far, Advertising Director Lance Pangborn is pleased with how his campaigns have progressed, but he is also always looking for ways to improve.
Each 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.
“Our vendors are eager to participate each year,” noted Cliff Brazie, director of merchandising for Kwik Fill. The mobile marketing events are used to promote the vendor partners as well as the sweepstakes, and to engage customers in the campaign.
“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,” Pangborn said. “We hoped that increasing the value and appeal of the prize pool as well as adding enticing employee incentives would help with that effort.”
It appears to have worked. Customer entries more than doubled from 2012. Improved Web presence, increased use of social media, and an expanded event marketing schedule also played a role in improving customer involvement. “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.,” noted Pangborn.
Customers entered the sweepstakes through a number of different methods. First, customers could receive 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.
In addition to possible instant prizes which included Kwik Fill Gift Cards, GPS units, and iPad tablets, customers registered to win one of 10 VIP Weekend Getaway packages where those ten winners and their guests would draw to see which one of the 10 grand prizes they would take home.
Pangborn said that although his sweepstakes model is a bit more complicated than some other giveaways, it affords him the opportunity to award the grand prizes in front of an audience at what he calls the Grand Prize Finale Weekend. “We bring the ten 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 ten grand prizes they will win. It’s very exciting for all who attend,” Pangborn said.
So it was that in early September, the grand prize finalists randomly and nervously selected one of 10 colored gift boxes containing a different grand prize. In one blazing moment of anticipation, each finalist opened his or her box to see whether it contained among other prizes 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. Jody Iannone and her husband Leigh just happened to be standing next to Pangborn as she opened her box and realized she had just won the very car she had always dreamed of owning.
“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 for Kwik Fill.
Pangborn delivered the vehicle to the happy couple in late September at a Kwik Fill in Endwell, N.Y. not far from the couple’s home. Local TV News Channel 35 was on hand to cover the event. (http://www.binghamtonhomepage.com/story/local-woman-wins-mustang/d/story/5jrsFpqHfE2jL0dfXuxZ1Q).
Iannone expressed the sentiment shared by the all the Kwik Fill Free Ride Sweepstakes winners: heartfelt thanks to everyone at Kwik Fill for putting together such an exciting program.
Now that all the prizes have been distributed, Pangborn is already working on campaign number six: the 2014 Kwik Fill Driving America Tour and Sweepstakes. Summer will be here before we know it.
United Refining Co. operates over 290 Kwik Fill/Red Apple stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Executive offices are located in Warren, Pa.