CHICAGO — Corporate giants McDonald's, General Motors and Sears, Roebuck & Co. are teaming up for what officials said Wednesday would be one of the biggest giveaway promotions ever.
The campaign, based on McDonald's successful 1987 Monopoly game promotion, will offer cars, cash, food and clothing as prizes when it is launched April 1.
It will allow the No. 1 U.S. auto maker to pitch Oldsmobiles to the younger crowd that frequents the No. 1 fast-food chain and will help Sears promote a line of children's clothing that the nation's No. 1 retailer in 1987 with McDonald's, said officials and published reports.
Company officials declined to say how much the promotion would be worth, though one report placed the cost at over $100 million.
GM's participation will focus on the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, said Gus Buenz, a spokesman for the auto maker. This year's model is sleeker than in years past, and analysts said the company's target market is a more youthful set than was associated with the old Cutlass.
The New York Times reported that Sears is expected to contribute prizes from its Sears' McKids children's clothing, which features some of McDonald's cartoon characters.
The joint effort "is not surprising in the sense that we think of those three as large mass-market oriented organizations," said Sidney J. Levy, chairman of the marketing department at Northwestern University's J. L. Kellogg School of Management.
"They are all-American names sharing an interest in a very large public," he said in an interview Wednesday.
"McDonald's, nevertheless, seems to represent a little more working class, a little more teen-age, a little more casual idea, than I would associate with Oldsmobile or even Sears, because I had the impression that Sears was trying to upgrade."
In tie-in promotions like the one planned by McDonald's, GM and Sears, "the common goal is to make money," said Bernie Ryan, spokesman for the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies in New York.
"They are three names with very fine reputations," he said. "For them to be together certainly makes sense and looks attractive" to customers.
A story in the Jan. 25 issue of Automotive News, a Detroit-based trade magazine, described the Oldsmobile-McDonald's deal as a $110-million joint venture, but did not mention Sears' involvement.
"I can confirm that we're a part of it," said Sears spokesman James Podany.
He would not say what the Chicago-based retailer's role will be.
GM will contribute 500 Cutlasses and cash prizes, Automotive News reported.
"We can confirm that we will be doing another Monopoly version, because the customers responded wonderfully" to last year's, said Terri Capatosto, spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's.
Players were given paper facsimiles of the Monopoly board, and could collect cards representing Monopoly properties at any McDonald's restaurant. No purchase was necessary.