Loubsol seems to have hit the jackpot with an ingenious promotion for its new licensed Club Mediterranée line of sunglasses, first launched at the Silmo fair in Paris one year ago. The licensor, the licensee, operators of independent optical stores and final consumers are all gaining something in the end in a huge contest designed to create excitement around the brand and to maximize sales of the line.

Briefly, here is how the game works: Selected retailers agree to act as ?Club Med ambassadors? in return for a minimum order of 30 pairs of Club Med sunglasses. The more they order, the more ?miles? they obtain, qualifying the store manager and members of his staff for a holiday in a Club Med resort, starting next Jan. 1. Participants will be able to cumulate their 1999 miles with those they will earn in 2000.

Each ?ambassador? gets attractive POS material and holiday posters to advertise a nationwide contest for Club Med luggage or towels and for more or less expensive vacations in Club Med resorts, reserved to the few lucky customers who will end up rubbing off the winning coupons. Each ?ambassador? gets between 600 and 1,200 coupons that they can give to any customers who will walk into their stores, no matter whether they buy a pair of Club Med glasses or something else.The idea is to generate traffic for the participating retailers by selling dreams for a change, instead of price or technical features, and to associate their image with these dreams. Some specialized dealers located in shopping malls have been able to create events around this contest, inviting the local press to cover the prize-winning ceremonies.

The promotion has been excellent for Loubsol, which specializes in sports eyewear. It has won new clients for the company in the optical circuit, helping it to raise its own sales volume this year by more than 15 percent to a projected 35 million French francs (e5.3m), in spite of a relatively poor summer selling season, and the momentum is growing.

The French eyewear firm persuaded more than 300 dealers to play the game for the spring/summer 1999 season. It has already won more than 150 new accounts since the spring/summer 2000 sales campaign started last Oct. 1, thanks in part to the introduction of new incentives. The company organized a special draw for a Club Med holiday among the new ?ambassadors? at the last Silmo. It also has added prizes of up to 5,000 French francs (e760), depending on the dealer's forward orders, for the best shop windows presenting the Club Med line around three themes, of course including the new Millennium. Club Med sunglasses retail for between 300 and 600 FF (e46-90) a pair.

This successful promotion has been limited sofar to the French territory, with the exception of a large optical chain in French-speaking Switzerland that has adopted it for its own stores. However, Loubsol's distributors in Belgium and Italy are considering similar campaigns in their own countries. The French tourism giant is well-known throughout Europe, where it spends about 100 million FF (e15m) on advertising and communication each year.