DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Makes a Bad Promotion Worse: If there were awards for the worst conceived franchise promotion, the worst executed franchise promotion, and the most publicly embarrassing franchise promotion, Dickey’s “The Middle” Family Reunion Sweepstakes Contest would be in the running for 017.
(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) So, yesterday I lunched at my local Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise restaurant.
While eating, I read the promotional posters and counter cards for the Dickey’s “The Middle” Family Reunion Sweepstakes Contest.
It struck me as possibly the most ludicrous promotion of all time.
The exact prize was unspecific, but it involved a “family reunion” for 10 for ten family members who would get to eat Dickey’s Barbecue on the set of “The Middle” television show.
The employees at the store and even a multi-state Franchise Director could not explain the promotion.
So I wrote this:
Magically, that evening the Official Rules and a promotional video appeared on the promos website.
Unfortunately, these hastily posted updates – appearing less than three days before the promotion launched – made a terrible promotion even worse.
1. Time Machine Required for Entry
January 13, 2017, less than three days before the promotion was to start and a week after Dickey’s was already promoting the sweepstakes in its stores, the Official Rules were finally posted to TheMiddleWeeknights.com.
The Official Rules state (as of this writing):
Entrant’s entry must be received by Sponsor between 12:00:01 a.m. PT on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, and 11:59:59 p.m. PT on Friday, November 25, 2016.
Each Word of the Day is valid for only twenty-four (24) hours, after which time the Word of the Day is reset.
So, to participate in Dickey’s “The Middle” Family Reunion Sweepstakes Contest, entrants must be twenty one (21) years of age, a resident of one of the 50 United States, know the “Word of the Day,” and have access to a time machine capable of transporting the entrant back to Sweepstakes Period 2 months earlier.
2. Carelessness is Hobbit-Forming
Trying to navigate the Dickey’s “The Middle” Family Reunion Sweepstakes Contest informational website is like a trip down the hobbit-hole.
When you type in the URL on the promotional materials TheMiddleWeekdays.com you are redirected to TheMiddleWeeknights.com.
On Friday, 1/13/17, a promotional video for and the Official Rules of the Dickey’s “The Middle” contest were finally posted.
However, the video file still displayed the title from the previous promotion from which it was obviously repurposed (See #1 in graphic).
It read: The Middle Earth Sweepstakes March 16th – March 27th.
When the link to the page was shared on Facebook (#2 in graphic) or the url was searched in Google (#3), “The Middle Middle Earth Sweepstakes” and March dates were also displayed.
3. What the Heck do we Text?
So, once entrants have gone back in time to November, 2016 and then back further to March, 2016 to participate, they must check their local times to see when “The Middle” airs.
Entrants must watch the rerun of “The Middle” at their local air time. In Dallas, where Dickey’s is based, “The Middle” airs at midnight.
In some markets, it airs in the afternoon or early evening
(Denver 3:30 PM, SLC 4:00, NYC 5:00 pm, 5:30pm, Burnsville MN 5:00 5:30 pm).
In other markets, it airs in the middle of the night or early morning
(San Antonio 3:30 am 4:00 am, Raleigh NC 1:00 1:30 am, Harrisburg PA 2:30 am, Orlando 6, 6:30 am)
According to the fine print on the in-store posters and the Official Rules, entrants must watch the show each night for a “Word of the Day.”
However, the video on the website http://www.TheMiddleWeekdays.com aka http://www.TheMiddleWeekNights.com says to watch for a “”’Heck’ of the Day’”.
“’The Middle” Middle Earth Contest” last March featured a “”Heck of the Day” featured character whose name had to be submitted.
So what the Heck are time travelling entrants to watch during the 2 am airing of “The Middle”?
(FYI There were Sweepstakes websites that posted the “Heck of the Day” answer online, allowing entrants to avoid watching the show as required.
4. What the Heck is the Prize?
Before the Official Rules were posted Friday evening, long after the marketing material were displayed in Dickey’s locations, the exact nature of the prize was pretty much left up the customers’ imaginations.
Many likely assumed, as I did, that the exciting Family reunion on “the set of The Middle” meant that the lucky family would get to visit a live set, see an actual taping of the sit-com, get to meet the famous stars including Neil Something & Patricia What’s-Her-Name
The Official Rule say no such thing.
They only say that the winner will be given a single non-negotiable day to visit, and the winner and all guests must travel to and fro on the same days.
If the winner can’t make it on that day, they lose and Warner Bros. can pick whomever they want.
Warner Bros. can also just skip the whole thing and give the winner a $1000 and call it even.
The kicker is – the Lunch on set is not necessarily during filming and WB is not obligated to have any of the actors on hand.
So… the Grand Prize is a chance to Fly to Burbank, California to eat barbecue at a replica of a lower middle class house with failing appliances in Indiana.
Bloggers who have visited the set attest to the house’s authenticity – down to the smell – as it was furnished with items from Goodwill, Walmart and Target.
5. Dickey’s Sweepstakes Debacle: Funny? Or not Funny?
Funny ending: I thought about ending this post with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Dickey’s franchise owners set up their own contest boxes in their stores.
Customers could drop in a business card or fill out a form to win a free Dickey’s Barbecue dinner at the franchise owner’s home – many of whose kitchen probably resemble The Middle set.
That way, customers wouldn’t have to stay up til 3 am for the Word or the Heck of the day, wouldn’t have to be barraged by SMS ads, wouldn’t have to take off work to fly to Burbank with Aunt Edna and grumpy Uncle Phil.
The owners would have collected relevant contact info from their own customers, not misled or confused them, and were guaranteed a winner in their market.
Not Funny Ending: At the end of the day, this is a serious situation.
Franchise owners are struggling.
Some are closing their businesses.
Some will lose their houses.
Some will lose their marriages from the strain.
Anyone who dismisses the seriousness of this debacle because it was free or Dickey’s got paid for it should take it from one who knows: All promotions take a good amount of staff time and energy – even those that are as poorly planned and executed as this one.
Time and energy spent on this public embarrassment was time NOT spending on the main job of any franchise marketing program: Getting Trial from new customers, increasing Frequency of visits from past customer, and raising the average check.
Franchise owners should be mad as hell and should take this opportunity to express to the new management team that this is not the level of service that they deserve and were promised.
Dickey’s upper management should be embarrassed and greatly concerned that they are neglecting the financial welfare of their franchisees.
While the press releases are focused on International expansion, I’d suggest that the Monday morning meetings might want to discuss getting the Dickey’s house in order over here first.
Franchisees will only laugh off this kind of insult for so long.
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