A Super-Successful Self-Liquidating Premium Promotion

Consumer goods giant Nabisco needed an exciting promotion that would enhance the image of its various brands among consumers and encourage retailers to provide special display space that would substantially increase sales volume. One of Nabisco’s managers came up with the brilliant idea of using autographed baseball trading cards as a selfliquidating premium offer, or SLO. Trading cards are the most popular sports collectible in the United States, and thousands of people are willing to pay $50 or more to have the autograph of famous athletes signed to a trading card. In fact, sports autographs represent a half-billion-dollar business each year in the United States.
The SLO developed by Nabisco executives and its promotion agency was straightforward: Interested consumers were required to mail in two proofs of purchases of any of several Nabisco brands (Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Wheat Thins, and Ritz Crackers) along with $5 and they could get their pick of autographed cards from a lineup of famous Hall of Fame baseball players (Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Willie Stargell, etc.). This was an incredible deal for consumers, considering autographed cards from these players now are worth over six times the $5 cost.
Interestingly, Nabisco paid these Hall of Fame baseball players $2 for each signed card. However, Nabisco requested 90,000 cards per player, which thus provided them with $220,000 in income—a huge signing task indeed, but one that most people would gladly undertake for earning over $200,000! To assure that the signed cards contained authentic signatures from the player depicted on the card, participants to the promotion received a certificate of authenticity, which partially explains why the cards have increased six times in value.
At a $5 charge for each card, Nabisco was able to self-liquidate the cost of the promotion and to pay for the expense of two promotions that distributed hundreds of thousands of FSI coupons to prospective purchasers of the sponsoring Nabisco brands. The promotion also generated two months of special display space in retail stores for participating Nabisco brands. All in all, this was an extremely successful sales promotion that provided value to consumers and generated increased sales and profits for Nabisco’s brands.

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