Taco Bell Likes Black Jack Odds In Halloween Eve World Series Giveaway

October 24, 2009: Seemingly undaunted by recent promotions in which food chains offered free samples of new products and then were ill-prepared for the onslaught of responding consumers, Taco Bell said it would give away Black Jack Tacos to people who visit a participating location on Oct. 31, which is Halloween and also the scheduled date of Game 3 of the World Series.

Taco Bell, an official partner of MLB,  said the offer would be good only between 6 PM-midnight (local time), with a limit of one Black Jack Taco per customer. (Full details here.) This is the third consecutive year that Taco Bell is tying a promo into the World Series, following its "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" effort in 2007 and 2008. Game 3 will take place at Citizens Bank Park, home of the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

In May, KFC, a Taco Bell sibling of Yum! Brands, revealed during an Oprah Winfrey show that a Web site would have downloadable coupons for a free two-piece grilled chicken meal; demand was so huge that the site experienced technical difficulties and numerous KFC locations ran out of the item (KFC fulfilled requests at later date). In March, Domino's "accidentally" released a code word that gave customers a free one-topping pizza if they ordered it online; the code word, which the company said was being tested internally for future use, was not accepted by many locations because they had not been given advance notice (Domino's ultimately honored about 11,000 of the free pizza requests).

Denny's free Grand Slam offer this past February attracted two million customers.And in February, Denny's said during a Super Bowl XLIII TV spot that it would provide free Grand Slam breakfasts for a limited time later in the week; according to a Denny's rep, some two million people took up the offer and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour (observers reported that some patrons waited on line for more than two hours to be served).

In 2007, Taco Bell and Fox caused a controversy when Royce Clayton, who was wearing a mike for Fox, and Coco Crisp were shown on camera in the Boston Red Sox dugout during Game 1 in what appeared to be a spontaneous discussion about the free taco promotion.

In each case, analysts said that the food brands ultimately achieved their goal of receiving national attention, even with initial negative press, because they were resolved mostly to customer satisfaction.

“We are hitting all projections and then some,” Mark Chmiel, Denny’s CMO, said in a statement at the time of the giveaway. “This is a massive trial event to bring back lapsed users . . . and we will see a payout for at least six months.”

Black Jack Tacos, which debuted at Taco Bell on Oct. 14, are also being supported by national TV, print and Internet, with the taco getting tongue-in-cheek fashionista treatment alongside models in black dresses, sleek black pants and a guy with a black eye. Lead agency is DraftFCB, Irvine, Calif.
“The Black Jack Taco is a treat, especially for Halloween because it’s fun, tasty and free — no tricks! Plus it’s a great way for Taco Bell to show its appreciation for Major League Baseball and its fans during the all-important World Series,” David Ovens, CMO for Taco Bell, said in a statement. “Taco Bell has a long history of ‘Think Outside the Bun’ promotions with baseball, such as last year’s ‘Steal a Base, Steal a Taco.’ This year, on the night of Halloween, any person can get a free Black Jack Taco, no stolen base required!”

The company did not indicate how many Black Jack Tacos it was prepared to give away.

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