In a time when many are bemoaning a slacking economy, the promise of free food will undoubtedly cause people to run scurrying to any place making such an offer.
Denny’s tried this tack after the Super Bowl, and IHOP did it on “Fat Tuesday”, using a charity bent, so it’s no surprise the sandwich giants are giving it a similar shot. Subway launched their “Five Dollar Footlong” campaign, (not free, but certainly cheap) adding a clever jingle that goes along with it. Denny’s and IHOP took a little heat over the long lines and shortages (and an alleged Nicky Hilton skirmish), but the campaigns went relatively smoothly. Why not get on the cheap/free food bandwagon, right? Everybody’s talking about it and it’s free press…well kind of.
Enter Quizno’s: the Denver-based company decided they would hitch themselves to the “giveaway/charity” variety campaign, providing coupons online for a free sandwich, calling it the Million Sub Giveaway. In addition to the coupons, they have a nomination process for people helping in the community, winners getting a year’s worth of subs – it’s noble, right? Unfortunately, they didn’t work the particulars out with their franchisees, and the backlash is only just beginning. (This is a situation when the language “at participating locations” really comes into play.)
So, some apparently got free sandwiches, because the “coupon” portion of the campaign is complete, a million subs supposedly given away. The trouble is countless people coast to coast didn’t get one, and they’re vocalizing this on blogs and Twitter. Some people state the coupon only being honored with the purchase of chips and a soda (even though the coupon doesn’t make this requisite) and other patrons say the stores flat-out refused to honor them at all, stating, “We’re a franchise, so we don’t have to.” One hungry commenter said, “We called 6 different stores and all said they wouldn’t honor the coupon.” Does the left hand know what the right is even doing?
So for you small business owners, heed this lesson: make sure any giveaway campaign you run is bullet-proof, otherwise the angry, starving mob could be feeding your business to the media. (photo credit Sakurako Kitsa)
Did you get your sandwich or not? Share your story and your thoughts. @bizcoachdeb