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IQ News: Contest Doubles As Online, Retail Promo

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With millions of college students now on winter break, textbook e-tailer efollett.com today will kick off an online sweepstakes promotion to drive traffic to both its Web site and its network of more than 600 bricks-and-mortar campus bookstores across the country.
The Spring Rush promotion, which will run through Feb. 10, features a special ˜WebDecoder," a plastic strip shaped like a bookmark. When placed against a computer screen, it enables efollett.com visitors to decipher secret codes leading to such prizes as Saturn automobiles, spring break vacations and prizes from sponsors M&M Mars, Coca-Cola and YM and Mademoiselle magazines.
Students can obtain WebDecoders by requesting one at Follett›s namesake bookstores or Web site; no purchase is necessary. Some 2.5 million WebDecoder bookmarks were manufactured for the campaign, which efollett.com called the largest printing run of its kind from its Atlanta-based supplier, Global Commerce Group.
This so-called clicks-and-mortar campaign is the first of its kind for the e-tailer, according to Tim Dorgan, senior vice president of e-commerce at Follett Higher Education Group, the parent company of Oak Brook, Ill.-based efollett.com. ˜There›s been a lot of press about clicks-and-mortar, and this, I think, is going to be a prototypical promotion [for us]," he said. ˜We›ve done sweepstakes in the past, but the novel thing about this is the WebDecoder."
The promotion not only is intended to drive traffic to the Web site, but also to the retail stores. ˜We give students the option of having their books shipped to them or picking them up at the store," Dorgan said. ˜The vast majority choose to shop online and then pick up their books at the local stores. It›s convenient, and with the inevitable returns that all e-tailers are going through right now, all they have to do is go down to their local store, rather than having to wrap it up and ship it back."
In recent months, the online textbook market has exploded, with myriad online merchants setting up shop to reach the lucrative college books market, which annually generates $4 billion in revenue. Dorgan said efollett.com benefits from Follett›s 126-year history in the business. The efollett.com global Web site launched in January 1999, with advertising on the Fiesta Bowl, but Follett has had a corporate Web presence since 1995. n