Business marketing with coins and currencies
The “Cheerios dollar” that was placed in Cheerios cereal boxes when the Sacagawea dollar debuted in 2000 is distinguished by enhanced eagle tail feather detailing on the reverse. (Images courtesy of usacoinbook.com)
Just as receiving cash is desirable, so is obtaining coins and currency. There are a variety of ways coins and currencies have been used by businesses as marketing tactics.
Perhaps the one that is familiar to more people than others happened with the launch of the Sacagawea dollar in 2000. General Mills acquired 5,500 of these new coins to randomly insert among 10 million boxes of cereal. Cheerios. It turned out that these coins were minted from a different set of dies than those used to mint coins in circulation. One of the reverse dies used to mint “Cheerio dollars” has enhanced detailing in the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse of the coin, different from the dies used to mint other coins. This variety is very valuable today.
Grain companies have long included various premiums in their packaging to boost sales. One company even stuffed bundles of uncirculated foreign currency into boxes, where the included colored bills had been inflated to the point that they were worthless as spending money.
You may have attended marketing presentations where attendees had the opportunity to win a draw for a gold or silver coin.
Local and state coin clubs often sell raffle tickets in conjunction with their shows where the prizes are usually coins and currency. Exhibitors at coin shows compete for prizes which are usually coins or medals.
The company I work for has a long history of helping companies use coins for marketing purposes, either as employee incentives or marketing bonuses. The first case was when a Wall Street brokerage firm bought South African gold Krugerrands during the bullion boom of 1979-1980 to give to employees as bonuses.
For years, a mid-sized factory in the Midwest paid out annual longevity bonuses. After working for a full year, these employees received a US Eagle silver dollar. After five years with the company, employees received a 5 1/10 ounce gold American Eagle. After 10 years, they received a US$10 1/4 ounce gold American Eagle. They would occasionally award a US$25 half-ounce gold American Eagle when an employee reached 25 years of longevity.
Among other employee incentive programs where we have provided coins – a large medical practice in our area for a few years gave out Canadian one ounce gold maple leaves as part of annual bonuses to doctors and US Eagle silver dollars to other staff. A statewide insurance company ran sales campaigns for several years in which the most productive sellers received American gold American eagles and American silver dollars.
As for customer gifts, when American silver Eagle dollars debuted in 1986, a national confectionery company purchased 5,000 from my company for prizes as part of a sales promotion. The results must have been satisfactory for the company as they purchased an additional 5,000 silver Eagle dollars in 1988 to repeat the promotion.
A Honda motorcycle dealership in our area launched a campaign where customers who purchased a new Honda Gold Wing motorcycle received a bonus 1/10 ounce gold American Eagle.
A local radio station changes format at Thanksgiving to exclusively broadcast Christmas music during the holiday season. Around December 15 each year, it gives away giveaways to lucky listeners, where some of the prizes are Christmas-themed 1-ounce silver rounds and rectangles.
When my business moved to larger premises in our mall in early 2013, one of the promotional contests we held to encourage visitors was to fill a jar with coins, including silver coins American and foreign and a 2 Mexican gold pesos. The contestant who came closest to guessing the amount of coins in the pot won that pot and the coins in it. There were so many entries for this promotion that there was a tie where one entry was a too low coin and the other was a high coin, which we resolved with a coin toss.
Coins and currencies can be perfectly suited for business marketing purposes in several ways. All it takes is a little creativity.
Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also a recipient of the American Numismatic Association’s 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award, 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award and the 2008 Presidential Award. Over the years he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2020), the Professional Numismatists Guild, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications manager for Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan, and writes Prospects of freedom, a monthly newsletter on rare currencies and precious metals. Back issues of the newsletter can be viewed at www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio commentary titled “Things You ‘Know’ That You Don’t, and Important News You Need to Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which broadcasts in live and is part of the audio archive published on www.1320wils.com).