VIDALIA, Ga. — Last year’s successful Shrek industry promotion left a good taste in the mouths of Vidalia growers and marketers.


Some marketers say the promotion helped increase sales by large margins.


The campaign partnered the sweet onions with DreamWorks Animation’s film “Shrek Forever After.” It attracted large amounts of attention and helped retail boost onion sales, said Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.


Billy Williamson, owner of Williamson Produce Inc., Wilson, N.C., said the Shrek promotion showed the industry the benefits of strong promotional programs.


“That was a great advertisement,” he said.


“They couldn’t have done it any better. We learned a lot about Shrek. It helped sales, even though last year was a high sales market.”


Count Barry Rogers, president of Sweet Onion Trading Co., Melbourne, Fla., as a big believer in the Shrek promotion.


“We had double-digit increases with same-store sales,” he said.


“One store’s sales were up 50%. The retailers got behind that promotion. It just goes to show you how important location is in the produce department.”


Rogers said produce merchandisers placed Shrek-themed bins in the aisles and ran the Shrek bags on ad, which helped boost sales.


Sweet Onion Trading markets for Stanley Farms and Glennville-based G&R Farms and Ray Farms Inc.


Anthony Cowart, co-owner of Cowart Farms, Lyons, who sells his onions through Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., said he thought the promotion helped move more onions than normal.


“With the market being a higher and nontraditional market last year, exactly what the numbers on what the Shrek promotion might have done for us, given the nature of the market and demand, it’s still out a little but no doubt, the Shrek deal brought us more into the market than we ordinarily would have been,” Cowart said.


“It may have gotten us a lot of multiple purchases that may be hard to track.”


Cowart, a past committee chairman, said some retailers became involved in the campaign more toward the end of the season.


Michael Hively, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, said the successful promotion helped show buyers the importance of strong promotional campaigns.


“Marketers and merchandisers for a company always recognize the value, but a buyer isn’t always thinking of that,” he said.


“They want to see new product. They don’t always necessarily think of promotions, marketing and merchandising.”


Hively said the industry encountered some resistance to the Shrek promotion, but after seeing its success, he said many buyers during the fall began inquiring about the upcoming season’s industrywide campaign.


“There are a lot of different people promoting Shrek,” Hively said.


“The promotion went very well for us. We didn’t run out of packaging material for our customer base. One of the things that made it so successful was because we as an industry are successful.


“However, other major brands such as McDonald’s were not as successful. Little old us, we went in with this co-marketing of Shrek and we were considered the small people, thinking McDonald’s would hit the map.”


Aries Haygood, operations manager for M&T Farms, Lyons, and chairman of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said the Shrek promotion generated more retail sales and interest.


“The Shrek deal showed us how retailers like that participation,” he said.


“It drives foot traffic to their stores and catches consumers’ eyes. When you walk into the produce section and see a big image of Shrek standing there, it makes you wonder what’s there.


“Our goal was to get the younger crowd, the kids, to see that, and get their parents to carry some onions home to help continue to grow our industry.”