Team USA Fuels BP Promotion

Retailer gearing for sponsorship role at London Olympics

Carole Donoghue, Petroleum Editor

LONDON -- With the London Olympics only a few months away, BP is gearing up to get the maximum bang for its buck from its sponsorship of the event.

Its latest Olympics-themed promotion is a sweepstakes offer, due to run from June 6 through September 4. Sweepstakes cards will be offered to customers who purchase a minimum of 10 gallons of BP fuel. Instant winners peel open their card to see if they have won a prize, such as free gasoline for a week. A separate code on the same card can be used to play an online game, with a chance to win free fuel for a year, and lesser prizes.

BP plans to make $1 million worth of prizes available, and is cautioning marketers to carefully manage their card inventory to avoid running out of cards halfway through, something that has happened to BP during promotions in the past.

Special point-of-purchase (POP) packages are being sent to every BP retailer in the United States, featuring pictures of individual athletes. In all, BP is sponsoring nine men and women, including a wheelchair-bound racer and a disabled archer who uses his feet to fire his arrows. The POP message runs "Team USA fuels our spirit. We fuel their future" and encourages consumers to fill their tanks with BP's Invigorate gasoline so that they will go "a little farther too."

The company is also offering BP U.S. Olympic merchandise for sale that sports the five Olympic rings and BP logo, and will invite consumers to "like" and support the U.S. teams on Facebook. Customers who click on the "interactive Augmented Reality" page will be rewarded with an exclusive e-book about each athlete, said BP.

The company said that supporting the U.S. team will be "mutually beneficial" because it will drive site traffic to BP stations and reward consumers, while raising awareness and support for athletes.

According to research by the U.S. Olympics Committee, 20% of consumers are more likely to use the brands of Olympic sponsors than they are those of other sports, such as NFL, NASCAR, the PGA and baseball. Overall all, the Olympics fan base is "more affluent, educated, engaged and influential" and consumers are "twice as likely to use or switch to a brand" if they know it is a Team USA sponsor.

Other promotions include special events at stations that feature a "Race Against Team USA" competition aimed at demonstrating the benefits of BP's "clean" gasoline in a BP-branded split engine vehicle. The charge for marketers to get the event at their sites will be $2,000, instead of the regular $4,000.

In other company news, BP is urging its marketers to start using a new web-based training program, the ClientLine & Electronic Integrated Dispute System, that it said provides a step-by-step guide on payment card settlement and dispute management. According to BP, card processor First Data said that 82% of all chargebacks go undisputed. It is offering six Amazon Kindle tablets as prizes for marketers who complete the training program before May 16.

BP has also made a small change to its credit-card fees, raising costs for marketers who accept the BP Universal MasterCard and the BP Branded Marketer Card. The major had been charging retailers a 74-cent fee for every transaction on the two cards. Effective May 14, the new processing rate will be 15cents per transaction plus 1.6% of the sale.

"This rate allows BP to recoup its costs while at the same time [it] remains considerably lower than third-party WEX,Voyager and MasterCard fleet rates," BP told marketers. The processing rate for those cards is 45 cents per transaction, plus a 2.15% fee.