On Sept. 1, CEC Entertainment, parent of 487 Chuck E. Cheese's children's eatertainment facilities, rolled out a fundraiser initiative targeting local elementary schools. The fundraisers are held on weeknights. Since its start, the initiative has generated more than 100 fundraisers a week. CEC donates 10% of the proceeds to elementary school Parent Teacher Associations (PTA).
The program is leveraging the chain's unused weeknight store capacity. Chuck E. Cheese's mascot (we're still trying to figure out what type of rodent it is. Perhaps it's a "rouse," a cross between a rat and a mouse) helps the chain market the fundraisers. Chuck E. Cheese visits the school the day of the fundraiser and the school principal walks Chuck E. Cheese around the classrooms to get the children excited about the program that evening. Then, at the end of the day when parents are picking up their children, Chuck E. Cheese stands in front of the school passing out fliers. Children are also given stickers that entitle them to some free game tokens that night.
One stock analyst, Robert Derrington with Morgan Keegan & Co., believes that just two fundraisers per month per store will raise same store sales 2% and increase earnings 8%. He says that four fundraisers per store per month would increase sales 4% and earnings 15%.
CEC currently has two other marketing initiatives under way. Its "More Fun" promotion focuses on its value message that all games cost only one token. In several markets, CEC is also testing kids' meals that include an individual pizza or hot dog, a kid's drink and four tokens at prices ranging from $4.49 to $4.99.