7-Eleven® Drives 3-Week Reality Rally to Web

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Young Drivers Take To the Road in Three-Week Rally With 7-Eleven® as Only Pit Stop.

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We posed the question, ‘Could you travel from coast to coast, stopping at only 7-Eleven stores for every need, from fuel to fresh food, snacks to Slurpee drinks?'

One destination, two cars, three weeks, four people, five webisodes a week, more than 6,000 miles and countless 7-Eleven® stores. America, start your engines for the first-ever 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally, a three-week, cross-country road trip culminating at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 28. Along the way, all pit stops for fuel, food, beverages and other necessities will be made exclusively at 7-Eleven stores.

The Road Trip Rally officially begins May 10 after the green flag drops in two cities on opposite coasts – San Francisco and Miami. Each two-person driving team will take to the open road from their respective starting points and head toward Indianapolis stopping along their respective routes for competitions and challenges. Driving hybrid cars wrapped to look like race cars, the teams should be easily recognizable by fellow motorists. One red and one green, the autos will sport graphics similar to those on the car of popular 7-Eleven-sponsored Indy Racing League (IRL) driver Tony Kanaan.

“This is 7-Eleven’s eighth year as Tony’s primary sponsor, our second year with Danica Patrick, IZOD IndyCar Series driver, and we’ve had a great run with the IRL,” said Rita Bargerhuff, 7-Eleven chief marketing officer. “Racing fans are true 7-Eleven fans. In fact, studies show that more than 4.6 million IZOD IndyCar Series fans shopped at 7-Eleven stores in the past seven days. A road rally seemed like the perfect vehicle to promote our IRL association, and all the ways 7-Eleven stores meet the needs of life-in-the-fast-lane consumers.”

7-Eleven has partnered with next-generation television network blip.TV to produce a web-based reality series following the two Road Trip teams. Once the race starts, new webisodes can be seen weekdays at http://www.711RoadTrip.com, and blip.tv also will syndicate the series and push unique embedded program ads to sites like YouTube, MSN, AOL, iTunes, Facebook and Hulu linking viewers to the webisodes. New episodes will be promoted on the websites of 7-Eleven and partners like Dr Pepper, Planter’s, Nabisco, Oscar Mayer and Nestlé Pure Life.

Happy Little Guillotine Films of San Francisco (http://www.hlgfilms.com) will create two- to three-minute vignettes highlighting each day’s activities, challenges and competitions, which will be uploaded once a weekday for viewing. The Red and Green teams also can be followed on Twitter and Facebook. All Tweets will be Geo-tagged so the teams’ actual progress can be followed. The host and drivers can be followed: FollowDrew, 711GreenTeam and 711RedTeam.

Starting in San Francisco, the Red Team will make stops in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis before meeting up with the Green Team in Chicago for the “final lap” to Indianapolis. Prior to joining the Red Team in Chicago, the Green Team will head out from Miami to Daytona, Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Buffalo and Detroit.

“We posed the question, ‘Could you travel from coast to coast, stopping at only 7-Eleven stores for every need, from fuel to fresh food, snacks to Slurpee drinks?’,” said Sterling Hayman of FreshWorks, 7-Eleven’s consortium of advertising and marketing agencies, who originated the idea. “The answer, of course, is an unequivocal “yes,” and we’re going to show that over the next three weeks and have a lot of fun doing so. This is 7-Eleven’s mash up of ‘The Amazing Race’ meets ‘Gum Ball Rally.’”

Drivers for the Red Team are Mike McClendon, 28, of Austin, Texas, and Natalia Fedner, 27, originally from the Ukraine and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Green Team drivers are Georgia Elizabeth Van Cuylenburg, 23, of Melbourne, Australia, and Josh Silberman, 29, of Milwaukee. Drivers auditioned for the opportunity to participate and did not know each other before their selection for the Rally. Drew Lanning of San Francisco will host the webisode series.

Along the way, the teams will earn points by competing in a variety of fun and friendly challenges requiring athleticism, talent, problem-solving and creative solutions. While winners can be easily ascertained in contests like races and relays, other competitions will be judged by online viewers.

Not coincidentally, their arrival is just in time for the America’s quintessential auto race, the 2010 Indianapolis 500, in which 7-Eleven-sponsored drivers Kanaan and Patrick will be competing.

After three weeks on the road, the two teams will enter the historic Brickyard finish-line style through a tunnel that goes underneath the track. Both Kanaan and Patrick will be waiting at The Brickyard to award prizes to the teams on the official presentation podium set up for Indy 500 race weekend.

Speaking of the three-week webisode series, Bargerhuff said, ““We have never done anything like this before, promoting a campaign using three weeks of webisodes. Nor are we aware of other retailers who have done something similar to promote their brand. Today’s millennial consumers communicate in a lot of different ways, with the internet being a primary source of information and keeping in touch. To develop the next generation of customers, we need to reach them where they are and position 7-Eleven as fun, relevant and innovative.”

While not replicating the 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally in its in-store displays, the same products featured in the Road Trip Rally are available at 7-Eleven stores, which also sport a race theme during May. Patrick is depicted with 7-Eleven’s iced coffee at a special price, and Kanaan’s likeness appears on snacks and beverages signs in store.

About 7 Eleven, Inc.
7 Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses close to 8,200 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 38,000 stores in 16 countries. During 2009, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $58.9 billion. 7-Eleven has been honored by a number of companies and organizations recently. Accolades include: #3 spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list for 2009, #3 in Forbes magazine’s Top 20 Franchises to Start, #3 among Top 100 Global Franchises by Franchise Direct, #3 in Store Growth by Convenience Store News, #2 in Franchise Times Top 200 Franchise Companies and #29 among Top 100 Chains in Food Service. In addition, Hispanic Magazine named 7-Eleven in its Hispanic Corporate Top 100 Companies that provide the most opportunities to Hispanics. 7-Eleven recently was selected by three diversity publications as a company offering the best career and franchisee opportunities. 7-Eleven is franchising its stores in the U.S., and is expanding through organic growth, acquisitions and its Business Conversion Program. In addition, the company received the 2009 Shopper-Centric Marketing Innovation from Symphony IRI and the 2010 Retailer of the Year award from PL Buyer because of the company's private-label brand program. Find out more online at http://www.7-Eleven.com.

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