Soft drink distributor Buffalo Rock Co. has generated impressive incremental sales as the result of a beefed-up promotional platform around its sponsorship of October’s Food World Magic City Classic presented by Pepsi college football game in Birmingham, Ala.

During a four-week promotion at 55 Food World supermarkets in Alabama, sales of two-liter bottles of Pepsi products nearly doubled over the same period a year earlier, said Fitzgerald Washington, Buffalo Rock’s general sales manager.

While the bottler has presented the game between the historically black Alabama State and Alabama A&M universities since ’01, it supported the sponsorship with traditional media this year, including radio station ticket promotions.

“One of our key objectives for the sponsorship is to generate incremental case sales, and we’ve gotten smarter on how to implement promotions that drive store traffic and make a connection between the Magic City Classic and the Pepsi brand,” said Washington, who oversees the company’s multicultural marketing activities in its Alabama, Georgia and Florida footprint.

“We ran similar promotions in previous years, but we really supplemented our activation at retail with radio, TV and newspaper ads and made the sponsorship a focal point of our marketing efforts,” he said. “We were committed to using this event as a real sales tool.”

In addition to boosting sales, the integrated marketing campaign played another important role: opening the door to more in-store promotions. “Sponsorship has become a vital part of our marketing plan because it helps us develop trust with our retail partners,” Washington said. “When we can drive sales for them, they are much more receptive to providing us incremental display for other promotions.”

Buffalo Rock’s Magic City Classic promotions included touting PepsiCo Inc.’s Diet Pepsi Jazz flavored line extension. The distributor offered Food World shoppers the chance to win tickets and attend the on-site Diet Pepsi Jazz hospitality villa.

In addition, Buffalo Rock randomly seeded tickets inside 12-packs–leading to a double-digit sales increase–and conducted ticket giveaways with radio stations in Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery. The radio station call outs also touted Magic City Classic tailgate parties at local Food World stores.

“Instead of just giving away tickets, we wanted to find a way to drive traffic to the retailer in those three markets,” Washington said.

Buffalo Rock’s push to drive traffic to Food World outlets also helped game promoter Alabama Sports Foundation sell seats, as the Bruno’s Supermarkets, Inc.-owned stores also were ticket sales outlets.

“Ticket sales through Food World stores increased 60 percent this year,” said Shannon Ealy, ASF vice president who heads up sponsorship sales efforts for the event. “Pepsi’s ticket giveaways and promotion helped drive fans to those locations.”

In addition to the Magic City Classic, Buffalo Rock also posted sales success around its sponsorship of September’s Ford MEAC-SWAC Challenge presented by Dr Pepper and Sunkist in Birmingham.

The bottler credits its second-year presenting sponsorship of the HBCU football game between Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference schools with posting a 12 percent increase in 12-pack and two-liter sales of the two Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages’ brands during an August promotion at Food World outlets.

In addition to multicultural events, Buffalo Rock sponsors a handful of other properties in its tri-state marketing territory, including minor league baseball’s Double-A Mobile BayBears; Pensacola, Fla.’s Fiesta of Five Flags and Pensacola Interstate Fair; and PGA Champions Tour events in Birmingham and Destin, Fla.

Those ties are overseen by Matthew Dent, vice president of corporate development, marketing and strategy.