Posts Tagged: Promotions

Mar 11

The Secret Code is….Hidden Promotions

When the word ‘promotion’ comes up in the context of retail stores,  large signs or banners describing a firm’s next big deal comes to mind. “Get some gear! 40% of everything” or ” 2 for 1 on all merchandise” and the list goes on. When you go to the mall or shop online you’re often inundated with different sales and offers. So much so that it sometimes seems like some stores are having sales every day. These kind of promotions are aimed to get the most attention and hopefully drive the most traffic and as a result need to be as obvious as possible. But what if retail promotions were more covert? Instead of being open to everyone  it becomes something that is found or stumbled upon?

At some restaurants you can find a ‘secret menu‘ where there are  items that they don’t advertise but if you’re in the know will make for you anyways. Its a bit like a secret club where customers get something that publicly no body knows about and as a practice is something that ( to my knowledge) hasn’t been really explored in retail as much.

Recently I came across an unadvertised discount from the GAP that spurred my interest in secret promotions. Its  since been taken down from this marginally legit sounding page.  I had come across this link on a Reddit sub forum from someone who had came across it somewhere else. It asked for my cell number and in exchange sent me a discount code to be used at checkout. With some hesitance I tried it out as the site didn’t seem to have much relation to the GAP other than having its logo. Had I not trusted my source for the link I would have passed on it thinking it was a phishing attempt. It did end up working even though not even the employees had much of a clue about it having just come across it once before.

How is a promotion like this useful? Well in my case it gave me a feeling of exclusiveness (mouhaha! I’m one of the few!) and it brought me into a store I don’t often place at the top of my shopping list. With this promotion being so out of the ordinary it encouraged me to research further and with no promotion time span given it placed pressure on me to use this sooner rather than later.

Looking beyond myself as the customer, I estimate the benefits of this approach would be even further expanded when an influencer or content creator comes across this type of content. By seeing this ‘hidden’ content they have the ability to share and build further credibility with their audience. As a result I would presume a two fold result: this person would have a greater affinity for the company (Hey this company had awesome content that I could share with my following. I like them!) and there would be the seeding of this content to this person’s trusting followers who will be more likely to go through with a  purchase.

So…. how is this type of promotion or even campaign implemented?  That’s probably the harder part. Does the firm put up a site and just wait for people to come across it? Should content be seeded through chosen users or be  placed on specific sites? As interesting as this idea is implementing it is the much more difficult part and needs to be explored further. But looking at this just as a concept there may be opportunity in this rather than continually   building larger advertisements to get into the faces of the company’s potential customers.


As always feel free to contact me at either @kevrichard on twitter or


*A note about this post. I’m not in anyway trying to say that lying or being not upfront with your customers can be used as a tactic. Obviously lying  equals angry customers which goes on to decreased sales. I mean to discuss the use of content delivery strategies that are outside of a firm’s owned properties (website, Facebook page, store front).

Aug 09

How I didn't get 100's of twitter followers!

Having a  traditional marketing background,  for promotional actions I always consider the end result or goal. In terms of twitter and social media  though there are a lot of unknowns and what ifs . Overall its untested territory for most people. Steming from a conversation I had recently I decided to do a bit of testing of the twitter platform and see if I can build a bit of test case.  This is part 1 of 2 twitter experiments I completed, stay tuned for the second one to come soon! * Note these  experiments are definitely not experimental and would probably not be replicated if redone, take my conclusions with your own judgement.

Experiment #1:

I think a lot of twitter users have come across the messages “Get more followers now” or ” Get X amount of followers today” and despite the general sentiment of  quality of followers over quantity I’m sure everyone even for a moment  where slightly tempted by this thinking that that more followers equals more people to get their messaging out to.  This is especially relevant  to  traditional marketing mediums as  more eyes =more marketing awareness= more customer action = money!  So I decided to put this to the test, can someone get tons of followers overnight using these follower programs.

The Scenario:

Starting off with an empty account ( @socialmediabot1) I joined the following  social media following programs:

Initially I started following 19 people and I noticed with all 3 of these programs that there were paid for premium options ( so basically paying for followers)  I also noticed that I almost immediately started sending out auto posts from these programs.  From there I left the account completely alone to let the followers come in, opting not to send out anything to not influence the result based on my content.




I started @socialmediabot1 on a Friday night, deciding to leave it  over the weekend. Checking it once I noticed that I was following over 100 people and had just 19 followers, no where close to the promised massive amounts of followers.  At the end of this experiment I come to above picture, no followers and 12 auto tweets and a suspended account.  I wasn’t completely surprised.


I am by no means a great twitter user but my account certainly didn’t popup over night and I certainly didn’t expect this one to. A major marketing/branding implication of this is communities need to be built and  its not a matter of massively following people or hoping that  people  run to your brand. Relationships need to be formed  and this takes a lot of time and effort.

Often times I feel that platforms like twitter are advertised as a panacea for marketing and that suddenly you’ll see huge results. FALSE! Like all marketing efforts hard work needs to be invested and careful planning and organizing should be done.  Social Media is just another touch point to your customers, the only ‘magic’ there is the opportunity to have further communications with customers and the general public.

I’d like to hear  what you  think about twitter and  any of your thoughts on  best cases or usage scenarios for companies and organizations so please feel free to leave a comment, send me a twitter message or email me at .

May 09

The High Cost of Product Giveaways

Recently two major American restaurant chains, Popeye’s and KFC ran large promotions of their product.  Starting off with Popeye’s who in a nation wide promotion slashed the price of their regular 8 piece bucket in half from $9.99 to $4.99 for a single day and most recently KFC with their even larger new product promotion through Oprah giving viewers the opportunity to receive a 2 piece roasted chicken meal and biscuit for free.  From a short term consumer stand point this sounds  amazing, the idea that  there’s a recession going on and these companies are giving a little to help people out.  From a corporation point of view not only is this a flash pan promotion,  but as witnessed on media outlets  this promotion is actually becoming a frustration  for customers.

While this promotion was made with the best intentions, it seems that they didn’t consider the larger consequences. In this post  I’d like to play devils advocate  demonstrating why mass free campaigns  should not be on a companies radar for selling their product ,  after demonstrating a case that did the  the idea of free samples right.

So what are some of the problems with these large campaigns? :

1. Large Costs: Both of these companies will be taking a major hit when it comes to their bottom line with this promotion. To start off,  they face major promotional costs with a national campaign but there are also the significant costs of giving away product and reimbursing their franchisees.  Also an unforeseen cost is the temporary loss of regular paying customers as a result of this promotion, with long lines filled with people looking to get their free product paying customers with limited time and attention levels are more likely to avoid these restaurants till the promotion ends.

2. Lack of Relationship Building: Everyone enjoys a free product,  it doesn’t matter what it is , if its placed in front of them  they will want it because there is no cost.  The downside of this is that the consumer has little to no interest in anything else. In my personal experience volunteering  with the Canadian Liver Foundation, during  a promotion with the Women’s health convention the CLF  gave  away mesh shopping bags  which were a big success, people completely crowded the booth wanted to have these bags.

THE PROBLEM: the booth’s informational materials went completely ignored, people just grabbed the bag and left.  The giveaway defeated the purpose of  being there which was informing the public on liver diseases and the resources available to those who have them. Much like the Liver foundation , KFC and Popeyes wanted to expand their company awareness. KFC wanted to position itself as a place of healthy eating and Popeye’s wanted to increase its market position.  While both companies allowed  people to sample their product it created  little to no change in perceptions or connections overall with the company.

Giving something away for free doesn’t inform anyone or build long term loyalty to a firm, it may build some short term good will  but the bigger problem is that people are more interested in the free and not on considering the company on a deeper level.

3. Service Failure: Last and probably the longest lasting negative factor in giving away your product for free experienced through these campaign is when the promotion fails to meet expectations.  Within the examples of KFC and Popeye’s  deal seekers became angry and upset  when they didn’t receive the promised product (as shown in the following You tube clips):

Service failure like this not only builds negative feelings among coupon users, but negative word of mouth among those that they interact with as they describe their negative experience. A promotion like this  also effects the relationship held with current customers and franchises who’s regular habits are disrupted resulting in a loss of good will towards the firms.

Giveaway’s done right! : In a previous post of mine I discussed the case of Whopper Sacrifice, a promotion where consumers could get a coupon for a free Whopper by defriending 10 people they knew on Facebook. Yes it gives away a free product but here is what I felt they did right:

1.The Consumer was active in the process: instead of mindlessly printing off a coupon participants had an opportunity cost in receiving the product which was making the decision of which 10 friends they should  sacrifice. This was more than just getting a product, the person was actually forced to think and have a memorable experience.

2.It was limited: This campaign was not made open to everyone as it only ran for a short period and had a limited run of coupons. This decreased the costs and  demand on Burger King’s restaurants meaning there was very little opportunity for service failure for all parties involved . Also by creating  exclusivity this  also created a topic for discussion creating word of mouth for the brand.

3.Involved others: this promotion involved more than just the participant ,  those who were defriended were sent a notification that they were taken off someones’ friend list with a branded notice creating further discussion ( I’m worth 1/10 of a whopper wtf?!)  and expanding into a larger audience.

Many people equate free with being a good  idea , but  without a well managed campaign and a way to build stronger attachment to the firm what the campaign really works out to is taking on a large cost with little reward. While KFC and Popeyes got a lot of attention for these large campaigns they will probably fail to see any long lasting effect.

Have any questions/comments? Contact me at or send me a twitter message .

Jan 09

Budweiser Superbowl Promo at Dundas Square

dsc001044One of the reasons I enjoy taking classes at Ryerson is that its right beside Dundas Square, arguably Canada’s promotional/advertising mecca. Almost every day there is something going on from a different company, today it was a  huge promotion from Budweiser. dsc001061

I’ve taken some pictures  of the materials and events they had going on today, overall I had to say it was pretty cool from what I could see, though I don’t necessarily know if it will get the results they want (perhaps more people will view it  at night?) . Edge 102.1 was there broadcasting the contest going on  which was where contestants  had their hand on a Budweiser plane, whomever outlasts the rest  wins a Budweiser trip to the Superbowl.


Then they had the Budweiser beauties I guess you can say, they were there to get people to sign up for the flat screen tv contest and encourage people to use the football simulator.  The heat pylons where a nice touch as well, but no samples what gives! Overall  it was pretty interactive and eye catching  one day promotion . 


Have any  Questions/Comments? Contact me at or send me a twitter message.

Jan 09

Sharpen your Blades! Red Bull Event Promotions

Red Bull has me really hooked at the moment with their Crashed Ice Promotion coming up in Quebec City. I’ve looked at the promotional materials and a few clips of this event and it looks like complete insanity. Upon looking at it further I’ve noticed that this is a very different sports sponsorship than what many other larger companies have been doing ( such as sponsorship of an established event or buying naming rights to the venue) .

Rather than take something proven and established , Red Bull has partnered with  a host city ( locations included Helsinki, Stockholm, Moscow and  Quebec City since 2006) combined popular aspects of hockey and luge and created an event that they take they can take  full credit for.  Risky business, but obviously for Red Bull this works as this event has been going world wide since 2000.

This isn’t the first event Red Bull has hosted and created as they’ve been involved as well with the creation of FlugTag USA  ( home made gliders going over a cliff competing for the farthest distance, amazing!) . Overall I’m really excited for Crashed Ice to come around and thought this was a  great case of  a  brand promoting itself. You can check out the Crashed Ice Website here  or check out the the Youtube clip I’ve included . Crashed Ice is going to be occuring on Jan. 24th on TSN for those of you who want to watch it for yourself….. my goal is  to go and see it live in 2010!



Questions/Comments?: contact me at or send me a twitter message.