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Einstein Noah boosts drink sales with contest

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group may have given nearly $45,000 in prizes to three lucky contestants of its “Flip the Lip” promotion, but the parent of Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah’s Bagels said it came out a big winner as well with increased beverage sales.

James O’Reilly, the Lakewood, Colo.-based company’s chief concept officer, called “Flip the Lip” the biggest beverage promotion in the history of Einstein Bros. and Noah’s. Contestants were asked to buy a 16-ounce or 20-ounce coffee or soft drink and unroll the lip of the promotional cup to discover what prize they had won instantly. O’Reilly said the contest had a positive effect on beverage sales and that the company was “very pleased” with its effectiveness.

“This came out of the recognition that beverages are an important sales and profit driver for us, and that we had not historically put a lot of marketing effort behind them,” O’Reilly said. “We are now aggressively focused on marketing our brand across all our major product categories, beverages being one of them.”

Einstein Noah served more than 325,000 free food and beverage prizes to contestants during March and April at its more than 600 restaurants in 36 states, the company said. The grand-prize winner, Denci De La Cruz of Jersey City, N.J., received a 2010 Ford Fusion, while two runners-up won vacations to Hawaii and Palm Springs, Calif.

In addition to driving beverage sales, building awareness for the bagel brands’ brewed and specialty coffees was essential to the promotion, which Einstein Noah developed with Mississauga, Ontario-based OSL Marketing, O’Reilly said. The efforts of “Flip the Lip” followed Einstein Noah’s social-media campaign in the first quarter of the year, in which a coupon for a free bagel distributed via Facebook grew the company’s roster of Facebook fans from fewer than 5,000 to more than 400,000.

“Those two programs had a lot of similarities in that they required huge amounts of focus and preplanning,” O’Reilly said. “We worked on ‘Flip the Lip’ for about nine months before it launched. There were a lot of details surrounding the odds of winning, the prize pool, artwork and the distribution of cups. That’s what led to the promotion being executed as smoothly as it was.”

Einstein Noah also franchises the Manhattan Bagel brand.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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