Title:
Code game business promotion method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of promoting business includes the use of a customer interactive message decoding game. The method involves identifying a prize winning message, providing separately a static code in a promotional area, such as an in-store display, a newspaper or magazine insert or product packaging, and distributing a number of game pieces, at least one of which includes a complementary code for deciphering the message by combining it with the static code, without which the message could not be readily discerned.



Inventors:
Hagen, Ronald G. (Larsen, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/189980
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
07/03/2002
Assignee:
HAGEN RONALD G.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/00; A63F3/04; A63F3/06; A63F9/06; A63F9/08; A63F11/00; (IPC1-7): A63F1/18; A63B71/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUARLES & BRADY LLP (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A business promotion method utilizing an interactive code game, the method comprising the steps of: identifying a prize winning message; providing a static code in a designated promotional area, the static code defining a portion of the prize winning message such that the prize winning message is not discernable from the static code alone; and distributing a plurality of game pieces to customers wherein at least one game piece differs from the other game pieces and includes a complementary code defining a portion of the prize winning message complementing the static code such that the game piece can be used to decipher the code and produce the prize winning message.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the prize winning message is text.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the static code includes non-alphanumeric components of the text message and wherein the complementary code includes non-alphanumeric components of the text message which when combined with the static code non-alphanumeric components define the text message.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the distributed game pieces that do not have a complementary code have a non-complementary code that does not produce the prize winning message when combined with the static code.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the distributed game pieces having a non-complementary code include a consolation prize message.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the promotional area is an in-store display.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the promotional area is a product package.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the promotional area is the interior of a product package.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the static code is printed on a game piece separate from a game piece with the complementary or a non-complementary code.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the game pieces are distributed in product packaging.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the game pieces are affixed to an exterior surface of product packaging.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein the games pieces are distributed in a carryable paper.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the game pieces are affixed to newspaper or magazine inserts.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein the game pieces include a transparent part on which the complementary code is printed.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein a registration mark is printed on the transparent part for aligning the complementary code and the static code in such a way as to make the prize winning message appear.

16. The method of claim 1, wherein the game pieces are transparent sheets on which is printed the complementary code or a non-complementary code and which are removably affixed to an object.

17. A business promotion method utilizing an interactive code game, the method comprising the steps of: identifying a prize winning message; providing a static code on a first substrate in a designated promotional area, the static code defining a portion of the prize winning message such that the prize winning message is not discernable from the static code alone; and distributing a plurality of game pieces to customers wherein at least one game piece differs from the other game pieces and includes a complementary code on a second substrate, said complementary code defining a portion of the prize winning message complementing the static code such that the game piece can be used to decipher the code and produce the prize winning message; wherein at least one of the first and second substrates is transparent so that the substrates are placed in overlying registration with one another with the transparent substrate on top of the other substrate to combine the static and complementary codes.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not applicable.

STATEMENT OF FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not applicable.

[0003] 1. Field of the Invention

[0004] This invention relates to a method of promoting business, and in particular to a promotional interactive code game.

[0005] 2. Background of the Invention

[0006] It is common for companies to advertise products and services for sale on television, radio and in print as well as on signs, billboards and point of purchase displays. Other common promotional techniques include contests and giveaways. Games offer consumers a chance of winning, which (depending on the prize) can be very alluring. It is a particularly effective promotional technique because the allure of winning can compel consumers to try a new product (or service) or one made by a different manufacturer (or service provider) that they would not have otherwise, particularly when participation in the game encourages the purchase of a specific product.

[0007] One technique commonly used in the beverage industry is a prize giveaway in which the game and prizes are advertised on the outside of the containers and the winning or losing information is printed on the under side of the cap or the back of the label. This ordinarily requires one to purchase (and possibly consume) the drink to see if he or she has won a prize. This can be an effective promotional technique, however, this technique is not broadly applicable to a variety of business models, such as service providers. Nor is this type of contest designed to draw consumers to retail outlets or compel them to purchase related goods or services.

[0008] An improved business promotion technique is thus desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention provides a business promotion method utilizing an interactive code game. The method includes identifying a prize winning message; providing a static code in a designated promotional area and distributing a plurality of game pieces to customers. The static code defines a portion of the message in a way that the message is not readily discernable from the static code alone. Of the distributed game pieces, at least one game piece differs from the other game pieces and includes a complementary code defining a portion of the message complementing the static code such that the game piece can be used to decipher the code and produce the message.

[0010] The prize winning message can be graphical or textual. In a preferred form, the static code is the non-alphanumeric components (straight and curved lines) forming a text message and the complementary code is the non-alphanumeric components of the text message which when combined with the static code produces the text message.

[0011] The distributed game pieces not having a complementary code do not produce the prize winning message when combined with the static code. These pieces can include a message indicating the piece qualifies them for a consolation prize. For example, the game piece can be redeemed for a discount off the purchase price of a product or service.

[0012] The static code and the game pieces can be displayed in various ways. For example, the promotional area in which the static code is posted can be an in-store display, a receipt, a product package, the interior of a product package and in other areas related to the product or where it is sold (virtual or real). The game pieces can be distributed, for example, in product packaging, by affixing them to an exterior surface of product packaging or a carryable paper, such as newspaper or magazine inserts.

[0013] In a preferred form, the game pieces include a transparent sheet on which the complementary code is printed. The sheet includes a registration mark that can be aligned with a similar mark on or near the static code for aligning the codes to make the prize winning message appear. Preferably, the games pieces are affixed to packaging or promotional items so that they can be peeled off and retained by the customer until they can match it up to the static code. A suitable dry release adhesive is preferred.

[0014] Thus, the invention provides a method of promoting business by involving customers in a unique code game. Depending on how the method is carried out and the game is played, the game can increase business in a variety of ways. For example, prizes for deciphering the code may compel consumers to purchase an associated product rather than a competing product. Multiple products, such as complementary goods, can contain different code parts, such that an existing customer of one product may be compelled to purchase the complementary good for the first time. By placing the static code on a display or product in a retail store, players of the game will be drawn to the store to attempt to decipher the code. Once in the store, the players are more likely to become customers, particularly when the game is augmented with point of purchase advertising and in-store product displays.

[0015] The versatility of the method permits the game to be played in any of various ways, thereby allowing the business owner to tailor it to particular business models, such as in-store retail, mail order catalogue, etc. Moreover, the components of the game are inexpensive and do not interfere with shipping or storage of the products.

[0016] The objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description. In this description reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and in which there is shown by way of illustration preferred embodiments of the invention. Such embodiments do not necessarily represent the full scope of the invention, however, and reference must be made therefore to the claims for interpreting the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a product package to which is affixed a peel off game piece for a code game used in a business promotion method of the present invention, also shown in phantom is an optional static code printed on the inside of the package;

[0018] FIG. 2A is a top view of an individual game piece, such as one separated from the package of FIG. 1, having a complementary code printed thereon;

[0019] FIG. 2B is a top view of a game piece having a static code printed thereon;

[0020] FIG. 2C is a top view of a game piece having non-complementary code printed thereon;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a front view of an in-store display including a static code with which the game piece can be matched to decipher a prize winning message;

[0022] FIG. 4 is a front view of the in-store display of the game piece with the complementary code aligned with the static code to decipher the prize winning message; and

[0023] FIG. 5 is a perspective view with the game piece affixed to a carryable paper.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0024] The inventive method of promoting business involves an interactive message decoding game. The method includes identifying a prize winning message, providing a static code in a promotional area, and distributing a number of game pieces, at least one of which includes a complementary code for deciphering the message by combining it with the static code, without which the message would not be discernable, at least not without effort. The game can be adapted for various business methods by distributing the game pieces and displaying the static code in various ways.

[0025] Referring to FIGS. 1-4, one way of carrying out the game is to display the static code at one or more specified locations and to distribute the game pieces with products. For example, a static code 10 could be part of a promotional display 12 inside a retail outlet. The static code could also or instead be printed directly on the display or printed on a separate sheet or game piece posted on the display.

[0026] The embodiment in the drawings shows a textual prize winning message “You Win” (see FIG. 4). However, in its broadest aspects the message could be graphical or a combination of text and graphics. The message need not make it overtly clear that the game piece is a winner or what the prize is. For example, it could also be a hint for solving a larger clue-based game. As another example, the message could be a character in pop culture that the player would have to match up to a legend, perhaps at a business's Internet web site, to determine what, if anything, was won.

[0027] In the case of a text message, as in the preferred embodiment, the static code consists of straight and/or curved lines defining non-alphanumeric indicia corresponding to constituent parts of the message. The indicia are selected and arranged according to the message, however, the message should not be readily discernable from the static code. This can be achieved by selecting portions of letters and/or numbers that do not readily identify the letters of which they form a part, as shown in the drawings.

[0028] Also included, either as part of the static code or at a prescribed location from the static code, is one or more registration marks 14 (two shown in FIG. 4), discussed below. Whether the registration mark(s) are printed onto the display or the separate piece attached to the display depends on how the static code is put on the display.

[0029] As mentioned, the preferred technique is to distribute the game pieces with the products. This can be done by simply inserting a free-standing game piece inside the package or by affixing a game piece 16 to an exterior surface 18 of the product or product package 20 (as shown in FIG. 1), preferably using a dry release adhesive. The dry release adhesive may adhere the game piece to a self adhesive base sheet which would be applied to the product package and remain on the product package when the game piece is removed from the base sheet, like the coupons in U.S. Pat. No. 4,479,838, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Typically one game piece would be distributed per product and the game piece could include a coupon or other informational section, which may be removable from the game piece.

[0030] Each game piece preferably includes a transparent sheet 22 printed with indicia similar to but different from the static code, but may produce a different message (e.g., Sorry) or no message. The indicia on most game pieces will not produce the prize winning message when combined with the static code. These game pieces 21 will have a non-complementary game code 23 such as that shown in FIG. 2C. Depending on how many winners are desired, however, one or more of the game pieces will have a complementary code 24 consisting of straight and/or curved lines defining non-alphanumeric indicia corresponding to constituent parts of the prize winning message. The indicia are selected and arranged to be complementary to the static code such that when the codes are combined the message is discernable. Like the static code, the indicia of the complementary code should not divulge the message without the static code.

[0031] Also like the static code, each game piece includes one or more registration marks 26 (two shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) at locations corresponding to the registration marks of the static code. Both sets of registration marks can be any suitable indicia, for example, registration marks 14 can be a small dot and registration marks 26 can be a circle. In this case, the game piece is aligned with the display when the dots on the display are within the boundaries of the circles on the game piece. Slight adjustment by the player may be needed to more accurately align the codes. If the game piece includes a complementary code, the prize winning message will appear when the game piece is properly aligned. Otherwise, if game pieces have a non-complementary code so that the combined codes produce no discernible message, then it is not a winning game piece. Additionally, it may be possible that the static code and/or winning message be selected such that the static code can be combined with the complementary code to produce the winning message and be combined with a non-winning code to produce another message. The non-complementary winning code could also be used to present a consolation prize winning message 25 (see FIG. 2C) or a coupon message allowing the player to redeem the game piece for free or reduced price products.

[0032] The above described version of the game is ideal for products that are opened and used at the place of purchase, for example, a dine-in fast food item. In this case, the player could peel off the game piece from a container for the purchase product and then walk up to the display, match up the codes and see if he or she wins a prize. It can also be used for products sold for consumption elsewhere. In this case, the player would be required to go to a retail outlet to attempt to decipher the code. This has the effect of drawing customers into stores, which may result in purchase of products in the store. This can be an effective promotional technique, particularly when combined with in-store point-of-purchase advertising techniques.

[0033] Other ways of displaying the static code and distributing game pieces can be used. For example, as shown in FIG. 5, the game pieces could be affixed, preferably removably using a dry release adhesive, to a carryable paper item 30, such as a free standing insert in a newspaper or magazine or a promotional mailing or handout. In this case, the user would again be drawn to a specified location, such as a store.

[0034] Another option is to change where the static code is displayed. For example, it could be displayed at an Internet web page, formatted as necessary for the size of the game piece and the resolution of the computer monitor.

[0035] Or, the static code could be a separate game piece, as shown in FIG. 2A, which can be distributed in a variety of ways depending on which is best suited for a particular business.

[0036] The static code could be printed on the outside or inside of each product or product package, represented in FIG. 1 with phantom lines. With the game piece inside of or affixed to the package, it could be removed so that the codes could be matched up at any location where the product and package are. In one preferred form, the static code could be printed on the inside of the package lid (see FIG. 1) and the game piece would be a transparent sheet fixed to the package along one side so that the game piece can be folded over the static code to align the codes (in which case registration marks might not be needed).

[0037] These alternate techniques have the advantage of potentially reaching a larger audience than displaying the static code in just one or a few locations. It may also be more convenient for the player and thus may provide more of an incentive for the player to purchase the associated goods.

[0038] It would also be within the scope of the present invention for the game to include more than one static code for different messages, for example, pertaining to different prize categories, in which the game piece could only be used for one of the categories, such as a small prize category with a higher chance of winning and a grand prize category with only one winner.

[0039] Thus, the invention provides a method of promoting business by involving customers in a unique interactive code game. Depending on how the method is carried out and the game is played, the game can increase business in a variety of ways. For example, prizes for deciphering the code may compel consumers to purchase an associate product rather than a competing product. Multiple products, such as complementary goods, can contain or include different code parts, such that an existing purchaser of one product may be compelled to purchase the complementary good for the first time. By placing the static code on a display or product in a retail store, existing or new customers playing the game will be drawn to the store to attempt to decipher the code. Once in the store, the consumer is more likely to purchase something in the store, particularly when point of purchase advertising and product displays are used. The versatility of the method permits the game to be played in any of various ways, thereby allowing the business owner to tailor it to particular business models, such as in-store retail, mail order catalogue, etc. Moreover, the components of the game are inexpensive and do not interfere with shipping or storage of the products.

[0040] An illustrative embodiment of the invention has been described in detail for the purpose of disclosing a practical, operative structure whereby the invention may be practiced advantageously. However, this is intended to be illustrative only, and the novel characteristics of the invention may be incorporated in other structural forms without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the static code could be printed on a window or transparent substrate and the game piece placed behind it to determine the composite image. Accordingly, to apprise the public of the full scope of the invention, the following claims are made.