Free recession swag! Rollercoasters > Pancakes

As  two million people still suffer the intestinal repercussions from their free Denny’s Grand Slam on Tuesday, a much more exciting offer has gone largely unnoticed by the press. Universal Studios ran its “Inner Hero” spots during the Super Bowl to promote a sweepstakes where the first 100,000 people to sign up at (they already reached the 100k mark)  won a 2-Park Unlimited Admisstion Ticket good for seven days  for both the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks. I received my notification that I won yesterday. Woohoo!

The Denny’s promotion was by all accounts a success, garnering about $50 million worth of free press according to USA Today. Not to mention the good will points it gained by providing something simple and satisfying during these tough times with absolutely no strings attached. The article is actually pretty heartwarming as people described how uplifting a free meal can be. Denny’s reported that the full cost of the promotion totalled about $5 million. No word yet on how much of that was dedicated to developing “Nannerpuss,” (video below) one of the greatest marketing icons of our generation.

Universal Studios on the other hand, is giving away something much more valuable than a $6 meal. Each seven-day ticket costs about $95 before taxes. Multiplied by 100,000 winners, that is a value of $9,500,000 to the company. However, the same way Denny’s actually turned a profit from its promotion through selling high margin items like soda (read the article), Universal stands to make much more through concession sales in the parks. After lunch, a few refreshment and any knickknacks you might get roped into buying, you can easily drop $40 per person in a park.

The difference with the Denny’s promotion is that it was easily accessible and stood alone. With the exception of Orlando residents, almost anybody who would like to take advantage of the Universal prize would have many other costs associated with it like gas and hotel stay. I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of the winners are Florida residents, which raises the question of whether the company spent its money wisely on the Super Bowl’s national stage.


~ by Joel on February 6, 2009.

2 Responses to “Free recession swag! Rollercoasters > Pancakes”

  1. Universal will make a killing from this. Remember, only one person per household can do this. So if there’s a family of four, there are 3 paying customers. Plus hotel, concessions, suveneirs for the kids, etc. Also, it’s great marketting tool for the new Hollywood: Rip, Ride and Rockit coaster, which opens in the Spring.

    Also, remember this is a response to Disney. Disney is offering free theme park entrance on your birthday, which will work similarly in bringing people in and spending.

  2. Universal will lose big time. Odds are the first 100,000 people who found out about this promotion are geeks and losers who either live home alone or will be going alone to Universal. Furthermore, one can assume these people don’t have the money to spend at the parks for food or souvenirs. G-d knows I’ll be packing enough peanut butter & jelly sangwiches to last me through the end of the planet. I’ll probably even sleep in my car.

    Universal Heroes promotion? I say Universal FAIL.

    Hey thanks though, I can’t wait to ride the ‘Back to the Future’ ride, its my favorite ever in the world.


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