Cashing in Big on Current Events
I was watching the second game of the World Series last week when, in the bottom of the fourth, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base on Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. He had a great jump and did not draw a throw from the catcher.
I didn’t think much about it until it was announced that everybody in America was entitled to a free taco from Taco Bell (retail value, 77¢) under its promotion, “Steal a Base; Steal a Taco.” That got my attention. The idea that 200 million people could show up at Taco Bells across the country and the chain would be liable to feed each of them a free taco is mind boggling.
It was brilliant!
However, Taco Bell was very adept at protecting its exposed flank.
A Communications Challenge
The logistics of the promotion were complex. To avert a serious public relations miscue, Taco Bell had to be in close touch with its 5,800 outlets in the 50 states. Imagine what would happen if a family of six showed up at the local Taco Bell demanding their free tacos and the manager said no dice.
What Is Taco Bell’s Exposure?
If anyone wandered in to claim a free taco, the net cost to Taco Bell is estimated at 20¢. And who would want a taco without something to wash it down with? A free taco and a paid soda would be a financial wash. What’s more, if the free taco were any good, the chain might have gained itself a regular paying customer. But should each franchisee lay in an extra supply of taco ingredients in anticipation of the rush?
The Small Print
The restriction: If the base were stolen by either team in game one or two (this was game two) the redemption time is 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday (today) October 30.