Situational Overview

In 2013, Valero turned to Pointsmith to develop a seasonal marketing strategy leveraging the Valero Alamo Bowl sponsorship – a sponsorship they’ve supported for the past 20 years.  Because Valero’s retail footprint is national in scope (5,000 locations coast-to-coast), Pointsmith needed to develop a strategic marketing campaign around the Valero Alamo Bowl that would accomplish two things: 1) appeal to a national audience 2) generate seasonal brand affinity.

Key Insight

The point of origin for sustainable brand affinity is a strong emotional bond between the audience and brand content. Knowing this insight, Pointsmith leveraged Valero’s key sponsorship of the Valero Alamo Bowl to launch an annual sweepstakes promotion targeting the passion of college football fans. 

Strategic Approach

One of the most exciting parts of a football game is when the kickoff is returned for a touchdown.  This key insight was leveraged to take Valero’s sweepstakes promotion to a whole new level.  Pointsmith developed an annual sweepstakes promotion entitled “The Valero Free Gas Kickoff Return Game.” Engagement with this sweepstakes yielded thousands of daily instant prizes along with a once in a lifetime opportunity that would appeal to any college football fan. The grand prize included an all-expense paid trip for two to the Valero Alamo Bowl plus an unprecedented opportunity for the winner to go out on the field during the Bowl Game and return a kickoff for a potential to win up to FIVE YEARS OF FREE GAS.

Traffic and engagement was driven to the sweepstakes promotion within the preStore stage by way of search marketing, social gamification, and social notifications. Once inStore, point-of-purchase (POP) signage boldly emphasized the sweepstakes promotion. At the postStore stage, the sweepstakes promotion was marketed to existing Valero credit card holders via statement letter inserts. 


Throughout the 13 week sweepstakes promotion, Valero collected over 1.3 million entries via the print, online, and social channels. Valero’s social engagement increased by over 1,300%, while competitors within the same landscape averaged only a 21% increase in social engagement within the same time frame. 

The social gamification component was played over 400,000+ times throughout the sweepstakes promotion and social chatter about Valero increased by over 2,000%. Among all entrants, 28% opted-in to receive future email communication from Valero compared to the industry average of a 5% opt-in rate. Also, the winner of The 2013 Valero Free Gas Kickoff Return Game returned the kickoff for 100 yards in ten seconds, earning FIVE YEARS OF FREE GAS.


Services Rendered:

  • Campaign Conception & Strategic Development
  • Insights & User Research
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • inStore POP Communications
  • Print Production
  • Distribution
  • Application Development
  • Analytics
  • ROI Analysis