Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I scream, you scream

Fast food chains are all about the free giveaways these days, but my favorite promotion so far comes from Starbucks -- it's rewarding Facebook devotees with a free pint of its new line of branded ice cream, but the company is making them work for the goods first.

First, the background: Starbucks is giving away 280,000 free pints until July 19 to registered Facebook users as a part of National Ice Cream Month. These members can sign up for a coupon redeemable for a free pint of any flavor of Starbucks ice cream at http://apps.facebook.com/starbucksicecream, and up to 20,000 free coupons are given away every day. However, the brilliant part is that quantities are limited to just over 800 pints per hour, which lures Facebook users back each hour to try.

When I first went to the promotion's Facebook application page, I was surprised to see that all lucky winners had to give their prized pint to someone else (as seen in the image above). A form on the site asks for the mailing address for "someone special in your life," and requests your email address so the recipient knows who sent the gift. But as my friend said, "This is a little altruistic for me."

At the top of the next hour, my friend and I anxiously clicked through to become among the first to snatch up a free pint. (We both won! And decided to give our awarded pints to each other. It seemed only fair). When I went back to the page nearly three minutes later, all 800 free coupons had already been given away.

For those who didn't make the cut, the site gives members a $1.00 coupon for its new ice cream. This is a smart move for Starbucks, as they are still rewarding those who took the time to try their luck (and made it worth their time).

It's cleverness lies in the fact that it implants the "receive a gift/give a gift" practice that keeps the company marching steadily through Facebook's very large subscriber base.

It's a great digital word-of-mouth promotion, and good for hungry Facebook fans with some extra time on their hands.

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