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Best Promotions

The leadoff spot in the promotions lineup goes to PIZZA PATRÓN for its “Pizza por Pesos.”

In early January the chain began allowing customers to pay for pizzas with the leftover pesos they had after visiting Mexico. Pizza Patrón targets Hispanic-Americans exclusively in its marketing, and a lot of them took the chain up on its offer.

The promotion, needless to say, was controversial. Some consumers accused Pizza Patrón of fostering illegal immigration, but they missed the point.

Chain founder Antonio Swad had found a way to reach his market with a tactic that his competitors had never tried before.

And good for him.

Batting second in the lineup is TACO BELL.

How many times has the chain offered free tacos to everyone in the United States if a baseball player hit a target in the stands, or if Barry Bonds hit a floating target specially set up for him in McCovey Cove, behind Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco Bay? How many times did everyone in the United States win a taco?

Not once.

Until this year, when the chain gave away tacos after Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base during the World Series.

The taco giveaway was the feature of the “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” promotion. If someone stole a base during the Series, it was free tacos for everyone!

At long last Taco Bell had to pay off a bet, and the American consumer finally won.

Unfortunately, the Colorado Rockies lost.

Here’s an example of local-store marketing at its finest: BUGABOO CREEK STEAK HOUSE celebrated the 10th anniversary of its restaurant in Bangor, Maine, with a “Hometown Heroes” promotion.

Now, many chains honor local citizens, but the noteworthy part of Bugaboo Creek’s anniversary celebration was that unlike other chains it did not roll back menu prices or run an instant-win sweepstakes. Doing so would have taken the spotlight off the heroes and been a “self-serving” gesture on the restaurant’s part, according to vice president of marketing Kim Jensen-Pitts.

“The whole point was to thank the community for our success,” she said.

Ten heroes were honored for their community service. They received plaques at a dinner and awards program just for them.

How’d you like to have Col. Harland Sanders hit golf balls at you?

A guy named Will didn’t mind it at all, even though the man hitting the balls wasn’t the real colonel but an actor dressed to look like him.

In the online-video “Will it Spill” promotion, Will first rode a mechanical bull while holding a box of Triple Dip Strips to test whether the strips and sauce would spill out of the box, which was newly designed for portability. Spill they did.

Next he rode around a golf course in a golf-ball retriever while the “colonel” took potshots at him. Nothing spilled this time, but c’mon. Will was safely ensconced in the cab of the ball retriever.

The latest video shows Will trying to make it to the top of a rock wall without spilling his meal. Not only does it spill, the box falls dangerously close to the “colonel”—who’s guiding the safety line below—threatening to soil his white suit.

HOULIHAN’S went all out this summer to reinforce the image of its bar as a destination spot by launching “Viva la Diva” on Thursday nights.

The promotion targeted women and was designed to increase beverage sales by offering such “flirty” drinks as the Brazilian Wax and X-Rated Flirtini. But there was more to the promotional trappings than that.

The promotion featured mini-appetizers and cosmetics giveaways. The music in the bars was by contemporary female artists. Flowers and candles adorned the tables, and the stems of the glasses wore glow bracelets.

The promotion was part of Houlihan’s reimaging efforts, begun in 2005, to give the restaurant a more contemporary look.

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