Industry News | April 16, 2010

Free Food for Tax Payers

As a reward for dealing with the tension of Tax Day on April 15, tax payers could visit various quick-service locations around the country and receive a few stress-relieving food items.

Cinnabon customers who visited between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. for the company’s “Tax Day Bites!” campaign sampled two free bite-sized portions of Cinnabon’s new line of cupcakes.

“We think it’s just a fun way to have a great experience for the guests to come in and get a little bit of a break on a day that bites,” says Cinnabon president Gary Bales. “We all have to write checks, but in the same sense, it’s a great opportunity for us to use the event this year to launch the new product.”

Customers could choose from four flavors: Cinnicake Classic, Chocolate Passion, Vanilla Bliss, and 24-Carrot Cake. Bales says the promotion benefited both consumers and the company.

Tax Day Bites cupcakes from Cinnabon

“We hope customers’ takeaway is that they get a break, we put a smile on their face, and they’ll come back and think of us when they’ve got a special occasion for cupcakes, like a birthday, classroom event, or wedding,” he says.

Like Cinnabon, bd’s Mongolian Grill felt the need to give customers some stress relief on Tax Day. The stores in the Asian grill’s 16-state footprint promoted the $10.40EZ lunch, where lunch visitors could purchase a combination of create-your-own stir fry, soup, salad, and a soft-drink for $10.40.

Denise Head, vice president of marketing for bd’s, says social media was greatly responsible for the promotion’s success.

“We all have it on our Facebook pages, and we send out an e-mail blast to what we call our Club Mongo database, our exclusive guests and our entire company,” she says. Some bd’s locations also promoted the event on Twitter, while others took the old-fashion route by passing out fliers to pedestrians in the streets.

Taco Del Mar also tapped in to the successes of social media by tweeting about its Free Taco 1099 Coupon that was available on the Taco Del Mar Web site.

“It was really fun to watch customers come in, and literally 60–70 percent have these coupons in their hand,” says Taco Del Mar’s president and CEO Larry Destro. “It just demonstrated the power of using public relations and social networks marketing to really drive in customers that franchisees had never seen before. It was successful last year, and what was really neat is that it was even more successful this year.”

Like Cinnabon’s and bd’s leaders, Taco Del Mar’s chief marketing officer Elizabeth Andreini says the Tax Day promotion was a win-win for both the customers and the company.

“We heard from a lot of people who were coming in and trying it for the first time, and we also saw a lot of people who were excited because it gave them a reason to come back,” she says.

“They didn’t just come in and get one taco and walk away, they came to enjoy the meal and the experience and often brought their friends. I think it was the fun that really attracted everyone across the board.”

“A lot of people are doing this now,” Cinnabon’s Bales says about the Tax Day promotions across the industry. “Once something catches on, everybody gets in on it. We had a great time with it and our guests loved it.”

By Jill Watral