by Alex Palmer | October 30, 2012
The Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) honored four loyalty and incentive companies for their creativity and strong results with the 2012 Circle of Excellence Awards. Presented on October 25, at The Motivation Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place, this year’s winners were Aéropostale, New York; Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific Pty Ltd; Assurant Specialty Property, Atlanta, Georgia; and Huntington National Bank, Columbus, Ohio.

Introduced in 2000, the Circle of Excellence Awards identify and recognize outstanding examples of successful customer and employee incentive programs. The honor is awarded to both the company and the incentive partner that assisted in creating the program.

“This year’s winners, together with their incentive marketing professionals, developed effective and engaging incentive programs, which produced for each of them impressive business results,” said IMA Executive Director Karen Renk in a statement.
Aéropostale was honored for its flash gift card promotion, created in collaboration with Portland, ME–based CashStar. The promotion offered customers a free $25 e-gift card, redeemable online and at physical stores, for every $100 purchase over a two-day period during the 2011 holiday season. They promoted the offer on Aé, and through a targeted email campaign. The program was so successful, it was repeated three more times.
Another award winner was the “Top Marques” dealer incentive program developed by Synchro Marketing Australia for Mercedez-Benz Australia/Pacific. This program was launched to try and boost sales of Daimler-branded trucks to help boost sluggish truck sales that had resulted from massive flooding in the eastern Australia region. This program offered dealers reward dollars for sales made and quarterly “Knowledge and Reward” program. The efforts resulted in a nine percent sales increase in 2011 compared to the year before, and a market share increase for Daimler brands to 3.68 percent, up from 2.66 in 2010.

The third Circle of Excellence winner was Assurant Specialty Property, which partnered with Hastings, MN–based Anderson Performance Improvement to design and execute STAR Recognition. This automated program allowed managers to recognize employees as well as peer-to-peer awards. The heavy promotion of the program and interest in it from staff led to 6,600 employees receiving recognition, and a five percent increase in employee engagement after the program had operated for 10 months.

The final Circle of Excellence winner was Huntington National Bank’s “Journey to the World Series,” created in collaboration with Dittman Incentive Marketing of New Brunswick, NJ. The baseball-themed sales program encouraged employees to get customers earning new commercial accounts by offering merchandise, gift cards, travel offers, and tickets to sporting events, all tied to baseball-oriented incentive points. The program resulted in $1.2 million in treasury revenue and a 12 to 1 return on investment.
In-depth case studies of the 2012 Circle of Excellence winners are available through IMA by emailing