Brilliant: Away to the races

Quebecers have a special place in their hearts for The Grand Prix. The Canadian circuit stop was June 25 in Montreal, but the excitement started to build in April. This year, Provigo and its parentco Loblaw decided to tap into that Formula 1 buzz, and ran a pre-Grands prix - Les Grands Prix des épiceries. The results? It's a winner.

Quebecers have a special place in their hearts for The Grand Prix. The Canadian circuit stop was June 25 in Montreal, but the excitement started to build in April. This year, Provigo and its parentco Loblaw decided to tap into that Formula 1 buzz, and ran a pre-Grands prix – Les Grands Prix des épiceries. The results? It’s a winner.

Les Grand Prix des épiceries challenged Quebecers to a shopping cart scavenger hunt/time trial, in which the fleetest – those who wheeled around the store and nabbed all the brands in record time – won a trip to Monaco for the Grand Prix on May 28. There were also five secondary prizes of $1,000. The Loblaw and Provigo chains’ cross-Quebec competition, created by Montreal agency P2P Proximity Marketing, not only had 18 brand partners, including Danone, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Kraft, Heinz, Del Monte, Natrel, Tropicana, Cadbury, Nestlé and Helmann’s, the campaign to get the word out was also a big production for P2P in terms of co-ordinating TV, 1.8 million grocery flyers, POS, store employees and web efforts.

It started when Provigo asked P2P to do a spring promo. Loblaw liked P2P’s race concept so much that it joined in, the first time the two chains had done a joint promo. P2P was also asked to recruit the brands, which they did via a checkered-flag-waving boardroom roadshow.

The ad creative also successfully recruited via a racing theme and over 150,000 hopefuls entered the contest during April by filling in their contact info on money-off coupons found at POS, on the web and in grocery flyers. Two semi-finals were held in each of the chains and the grand finale took place in Provigo May 5 and aired live on Salut, Bonjour!, the most popular morning show in the country (it garners a 16 share). The real highlight of the promo was the brands’ length of TV airtime, and the degree of brand/content immersion. The Salut, Bonjour! weather girl directed the racers. And since the finalist carts were equipped with cameras, there was a lot of live race footage; about four minutes of the semi-finals and 13 two-minute bits of the finals, for a total of 26 minutes of the three hour show, mostly between 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Pierre Parent, president of P2P, says that, like its inspiration, Les Grands Prix des épiceries is now going to be an annual event.