‘Summer of Sausage’ Hits Retail

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‘Summer of Sausage’ Hits Retail

By Patrycja Malinowska - 10/01/2019

Johnsonville brings patriotic campaign to grocers and mass merchants

Johnsonville rang in the 2019 grilling season with a patriotic “Summer of Sausage” marketing campaign comprising digital/social, TV, radio, experiential, packaging and P-O-P components with a plethora of account-specific activations and some cross-category partnerships.

“We got a lot of traction, probably even more than we’ve ever gotten for Bratsgiving,” says Johnsonville shopper marketing manager Stephanie Plehn.

A crux of the effort was a “shirts for sausage” incentive dangling a free T-shirt depicting the program’s “You Can’t Spell Sausage Without U.S.A.” message, but the key to success was that each retailer received a custom activation tailored both to its receptivity of particular tactics and its unique shopper base.

A top partner, Albertsons accepted a program spanning all banners (excluding United) and offering the T-shirt with $20 purchases of Johnsonville dinner sausage that were tracked via the grocer’s Just for U loyalty program. Johnsonville received weekly data readouts with a list of shoppers and their email, dollar purchase amount and number of shirts earned.

In total, some 12,000 Albertsons shoppers qualified for the incentive. “In some cases, we got as many as nine shirts [for one shopper] – that’s $180 of sausage,” says integrated marketing manager Mark Bennet.

Mobile banner ads, a branded landing page within chain websites and influencer support (via Quotient) plugged the incentive. Albertsons even took on the task of producing a supporting standee placed across all of its 2,000-plus stores. The resulting sign was about five feet tall and resembled a grill.

“The reason we liked this lane, outside of just the design of the sign obviously, was these get shipped direct to store,” says Bennet. “If corporate is in agreement with us on it and they work with [P-O-P partner] Ivie on it, it’ll get shipped to each individual store, which is a lot more of a comfort to us than some of the third parties or even within our broker network. It’s never a guarantee we’re going to get stuff up so this is a much better way to do it.”

Kroger accepted a company-wide program, offering the free T-shirt with purchase of five units of dinner sausage. Catalina integration made redemption easy, with qualifying purchases triggering a code printed on receipts that participants submitted to promotional website SausageSwag.com.

A prominent ad running in the grocer’s June/July issue of My Magazine supported. Johnsonville also participated in Kroger’s summer integrated program and ran digital advertising on Kroger.com in partnership with Bimbo Bakeries.

Without the availability of Catalina integration or a loyalty program to facilitate easy redemption, Walmart was not one of the retailers offering the T-shirts. Instead, Johnsonville focused on driving online grocery sales, seeking to create a “one stop shop” grilling destination in partnership with Bimbo and MillerCoors’ Miller Lite.

Integrating across three different product categories required getting Walmart’s beer buyer, bun buyer and meat buyer into the same meeting – not an easy feat. A stroke of luck had the bun and meat buyers chatting while waiting at the same microwave, and that’s when a meeting finally materialized.

“All three buyers knew bits and pieces of what we were trying to do, but no one had seen every bell and whistle presented by each of the parties,” says Johnsonville shopper & customer marketing manager Fiona Redhair. “Thank God for the microwave.”

The team tapped San Francisco-based Aki to run pre-shop “backyard BBQ made easy” digital advertising with direct-to-cart integration, allowing shoppers to seamlessly drop products from all three partners into their Walmart shopping cart. “This is something we’re testing and excited about because Walmart is definitely pushing and encouraging [online grocery pickup marketing],” says Redhair.

Knowing that retailtainment is also important to the mass merchant, Johnsonville additionally sent its Big Taste Grill semi-truck on a 10-store Walmart tour across North Texas and Arkansas, with the money raised from food sales going to local charities.

In stores, a Shopkick incentive spurred interaction with all the partner products. Miller Lite and Bimbo also created P-O-P kits that were sent out to all Walmart locations, though the suggested cross-merchandising display only materialized in some stores.

“You think you’re going to get some enterprise-wide display, but the longer I work at Walmart the more I realize there’s no such thing as a force-out; it truly is discretionary if point-of-sale is going to be used,” Redhair says.

Meijer, Publix, Ahold Delhaize’s Giant division and Food Lion banner, H-E-B, Target, Cub Foods, Wisconsin regional grocer Sendicks and c-stores including Circle K also participated. Get the full story on P2PI.org.

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