Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Free Stuff

The Carolina Hurricanes have a bunch of promotions going on this season of the following form: "If the Hurricanes do [some in-game accomplishment], the next day, you get a free [food item, usually] at participating locations of [local establishment]!" For instance, last Saturday, the Hurricanes scored five goals, and that triggered a Subway promotion where we could all get a free cookie at Subway the next day, no additional purchase required. (Triangle locations only, of course.) Subway cookies are pretty good, so, yeah! I actually went out on Sunday and got my free cookie.

Sounds great, and everyone at the game on Saturday was really excited, but the actual retail value of one Subway cookie is only 60 cents. Which begs the question: why bother? How much does a free (something) need to be worth for it to be worthwhile to go out and get one?

It all depends on the (something), obviously. On Sunday, I was driving by a Subway anyway, and I wanted a cookie. But most of the time, these promotions sound better than they actually are. Out of all of the Hurricanes' promotions, 50% off Papa Johns is almost certainly the best one, because a) 50% is a decent discount, and b) it applies to online orders, meaning you don't have to leave the house to redeem it! The rest are like the Subway promotion: barely worth the gas that your car burns en route. Or maybe even the printer ink that you use to print the coupon. (Tip: when redeeming one of these offers, bring proof that the offer exists, because the restaurant employee probably doesn't even know about it.)

And that's why so many local establishments have these offers. They get their name mentioned during game telecasts and whatnot, hardly anybody actually takes them up on the offer, and the few that do often end up buying other stuff while they're there. Now that's marketing!

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