Departments - September/October 2014

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Circle of Excellence

By Deborah L. Vence

Four companies received the Incentive Marketing Association's 2014 Circle of Excellence Award in July for creating strategic programs that used incentive campaigns to attain successful results.

The esteemed award—presented at the association's 15th Annual Summit held July 27 to 29 in Philadelphia—was given to Schweppes Australia along with incentive marketing partner, Solterbeck, South Melbourne; Bayer Australia Ltd., Pymble, NSW with incentive partner, Synchro Marketing, Australia; Regal Entertainment Group, Knoxville, Tenn., and Aéropostale, New York, with digital gifting partner, CashStar. An honorable mention award was presented to Creative Group, located in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

"Incentive programs have proven themselves time and time again as effective tools to drive business," said IMA President Richard Low in a press release. "IMA's Circle of Excellence Award recognizes organizations for effectively designing and implementing incentive programs to motivate their employees and win customers."

The Circle of Excellence Award, launched in 2000, identifies and recognizes outstanding examples of successful customer and employee incentive programs designed to help drive business. Both the company and the incentive marketing partner are recognized.

The winning programs and their results comprise the following:

  • Employee Engagement Recognition Winner: Schweppes Australia recognition program refreshes the company culture. Schweppes Australia teamed up with incentive partner, Solterbeck, to create new, exciting and fresh employee recognition opportunities, with equal focus on appreciation and awards. As a result, the "Schhhweppic" platform was born, combining the Schweppes brand with "epic" to signify the magnitude of the program and to capture the essence of Schweppes Australia's culture. The program included a half-day training session for all employees, an online store to redeem award points, service awards, and quarterly and annual recognition events. More than 90 percent of Schweppes Australia employees are participating in the "Schhhweppic" program.
  • Dealer Distributor Program Winner: Bayer Australia Limited dealers deliver healthy results. Bayer Australia's Animal Health division and Synchro Marketing Australia set out to improve product positioning and sales leadership among veterinary practices and pet specialty retail stores. As a result, the "Bayer Accelerate—Learn, Grow, Reward" training and awards program was created. It encompasses product knowledge online training courses, marketing tools and incentive rewards for veterinary practices and pet supply stores and their associates. The program has achieved 80 percent participation, with retail channel sales having grown by 34 percent and 13 percent at veterinary clinics.
  • Consumer/Offer/Branding Winner: Regal Entertainment, Aéropostale cross-branding promotion combines fun and fashion. CashStar brought together the two companies popular with teenagers and young adults to launch a 2013 two-week holiday sales promotion in which purchasers of $40 or more of Regal eGift cards received a $10 bonus eGift card from Aéropostale. The "Regal/Aéropostale Cross-Brand Initiative" program was a success.
  • Employee Engagement Recognition Honorable Mention: Creative Group Inc. revamped their recognition program working with four separate recognition programs, together with an employee suggestion plan, sales lead referrals and service awards that resulted in low participation and lack of clarity among employees at Creative Group Inc. Following a series of strategic planning steps and employee focus groups, the company launched "Excelevate," a simple, easily-deliverable program to honor employees who excel and elevate their performance to new heights. The program had 78 percent participation within the first two months. Creative Group Inc.'s recent sales year has been the best in its history.

Objectives of the IMA Circle of Excellence Award Program include the following:

  • Generate case studies of successful incentive programs to be used to promote the use of incentives.
  • Provide a showcase for incentive marketing "best practices."
  • Promote industry professionalism.
  • Provide recognition for IMA members and their clients.

Evaluation criteria include:

  • Program creativity
  • Program execution
  • Program results

Previous Circle of Excellence Award winners include companies such as GE Financial Services, GlaxoSmithKline, Kohler, Kraft Foods, Purina, Microsoft Corp. and Sprint Communications. Circle of Excellence Award case studies illustrate the power of incentives, setting even higher standards for the incentive marketplace. Judging criteria include overall success in meeting program objectives, program originality/creativity, appropriate incentive selection, perceived value of the incentive and effectiveness of communication strategy and promotional materials.

Located in Rosemont, Ill., the IMA is made up of companies that are considered the most influential in the incentive industry. The IMA provides education, resources and research to promote the use of incentive programs to the business community and is the umbrella organization for the Global Incentive Council (GIC), the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC), the Incentive Manufacturers & Representatives Alliance (IMRA), the Incentive Travel Council, the Performance Improvement Council, the Recognition Council, IMA-Canada and IMA-Europe.

More information about the IMA and the incentive marketplace can be found at