Snow leopards, monkey-eating eagles and cuckoo bees star in Countdown’s latest collectibles effort

Last year, Countdown jumped onto the collectibles bandwagon by distributing DreamWorks Heroes 3D cards to customers who spent $20 or more in stores. And despite this previous campaign being criticised for relying on pester power and for not being environmentally friendly, Countdown is going for another collectibles ride—and this time it’s all about the inhabitants of the wild.

For the new ‘Super Animals’ campaign, which runs until 15 March, Countdown has teamed up with the SPCA to launch a range of 108 collectible animal cards that activate an animal sound when swiped through a sound card reader (sold separately for $8).

In addition to last year’s DreamWorks campaign, Countdown has also run several loyalty initiatives geared adults, which gave consumers the chance to win knives, glasses and Jamie Oliver Crockery—and they have proven popular in each instance.   

As has been the case with these previous efforts, customers will be given cards (four in this case) for every $20 spent at stores and the grocery chain is also selling collectors’ albums for $9.

When the grocery chain previously ran its DreamWorks collectibles campaign, some customers were left annoyed by the fact that stores ran out of stock of the albums. And in response to potential customer concern of this happening again, Countdown said this on the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of its website: 

“We have ordered more albums for this campaign so hopefully no one will miss out. However we do advise customers who would like an album to get in quick as they are only available while stocks last. We also have a Collector’s Tin available to help keep your cards safe.”

But a lack of album stock wasn’t the only problem that Countdown faced with the previous campaign. Kath Dewar, the managing director of marketing business GoodSense, which delivers green marketing solutions for progressive organisations, criticised the DreamWorks campaign for not being environmentally sustainable:

“While most of the social impact has been seen upfront, the environmental impact has a longer lifespan. The environmental harm so far has been from the waste, energy-use, chemical pollution and greenhouse gases caused by producing and shipping the cards and from waste packaging. The collector’s album pages are lined with plastic sleeves to hold the plastic cards collected. The completed albums are prized possessions in many homes right now and selling on Trade Me for over $120. But when it does come to spring-clean the toy box, many families will have little choice but to ship the albums, off to landfill, Madagascar penguin cards included. It seems unlikely they’ll be regarded as treasures by any future generations that unearth them.”     

When asked about the environmental impact of the new campaign, Bridget Lamont, countdown’s general manager for marketing, said that the cards for the new campaign are made of cardboard and are recyclable. This cannot, however, be said of the albums nor the sound card readers, which both contain plastic.   

That being said, the albums also comes with a for-good element in that $1 of all sales will be donated to the SPCA.   

“This is the first national campaign where we’ve worked with the SPCA but our stores have had SPCA donation bins and local relationships with SPCA centres around the country for many years, and we have also worked with the SPCA on our Blue Tick accredited free-farmed pork,” says Lamont.

(Lamont sitting alongside SPCA inspector Sue Baudet and RNZSPCA chief executive Ric Odom

Countdown again commissioned the services of its agency Ogilvy to launch this campaign, but Lamont explains that the inspiration came from across the ditch, where Woolworths ran a similar campaign last year in partnership with Taronga Zoo.

 Over the past year, Kiwis have shown their partiality for collecting random, otherwise useless, items during the campaigns run by New World, Z Energy and Countdown, but all novelties eventually wear off. So is there a risk that this campaign might fall flat due to consumer fatigue?    

“Countdown’s previous collectible programmes have been very popular,” says Lamont. “Collecting cards isn’t a new phenomenon but we wanted to run something a little bit different this time, with a learning focus that we think will appeal to the whole family.”

And, if Facebook is anything to go by, then the campaign is striking a chord in its early stages, with one commenter even saying that the campaign will lead her to shop at Countdown rather than New World for a while.

The collection includes a range of animals such as the snow leopard, the monkey-eating eagle, cuckoo bee and others from around the globe, but StopPress is slightly disappointed that the delightfully unique ‘Left Shark’ doesn’t feature on the list.


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