Washington, D.C., is a wonderful place. It’s rich with history and museums, memorials, the White House and Capitol Hill and, recently, the Stanley Cup.
D.C. has issues, too. It’s just been ranked the psychopath capital of the country. No other state even comes close. Air quality in the District reached Code Red status for ozone pollution July 9. Code Red means that everyone could feel health effects from the air and should limit outdoor activity. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2012.
Yet earlier today, there was the D.C. Council, the area’s legislature, eschewing the city's crime and unemployment rates and tweeting, “We remind you that Science knows of no stickier substance than the floor of a @7eleven on Free Slurpee Day (7/11) #7ElevenDay.”
It wasn’t alone.
Plenty of brands and organizations joined the party on the 11th day of the seventh month, known as 7-11 Day, or more practically, the day when you can snag a free Slurpee at 7-Eleven outlets.
By the way, if you’re in Australia, where convention holds that the date is written before the month, you’ll have to wait several long weeks for your free drink. Down Under you can pick up your free Slurpee on 7 November.
Back here in the States, a slew of news organizations alerted their social media followers to the day’s significance. USA Today posted an amusing GIF on Twitter. Food Insider offered an informative post with specifics, noting 11 am-7 pm (don't ya love it, 7 and 11?) are the hours during which patrons can get a free small Slurpee.
Much like the D.C. government, some of the brands and organizations having fun with the day might come in for questioning. Given the high sugar concentration of the beverage, the parent-teacher-student organization of a high school in Maryland urging Twitter followers to get a free Slurpee might be criticized.
Community Service Announcement ????: Today is National Free Slurpee Day so stop by your nearest Maryland or D.C. 711 location for a free slurpee! pic.twitter.com/DJbDTr9ZkJ
— FDHS PTSO (@FDHSPTSO) July 11, 2018
Sometimes brands fall into a social trend unintentionally. This can hurt the brand or be beneficial, as it was with the Pope and his Fiat. Today, Jack Daniel's innocently (or not?) posted a recipe for a Berry Mule (see below). But note in the third line of the recipe (below), the "Old No. 7" is contiguous with 11.2 ounces of cranberry juice, thus concocting a 7-11 combination that confused Google searches all day.
We like our whiskey from Tennessee and our mules muddled. Here’s how to mix up a Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Berry Mule:
Muddle 5 Raspberries. Add Ice, 1 1⁄2 oz Old No. 7, 11⁄2 oz Cranberry Juice, 1 oz Amaretto, 1⁄2 oz Lime Juice. Shake. Strain. And top with Ginger Beer. pic.twitter.com/fbBpXPMzyp
— Jack Daniel's (@JackDaniels_US) July 11, 2018
Getting back to intentional newsjacking, though, even soy sauce brand Kikkoman couldn't resist celebrating 7-11 Day. In a multifaceted post, it offered its “favorite Slurpee pairings” with foods such as pot stickers, ramen and sushi.
The beauty of this post is that one could also consider it a public service message. For years, we thought the versatility of the Slurpee and its mind-locking quantity of ice and sugar allow it to be paired with any fine comestible. With the sort of buzz the Slurpee produces, who cares what you eat with it?
It took Kikkoman’s post to school us: Pairing a Piña Colada Slurpee with sushi is a culinary error so egregious it could get you thrown out of numerous fine establishments. We'll be changing our traditional Sunday-night meal immediately. Who knew?
As savvy PR pros are aware, most brands step into the social dialogue only after diligent preparation. A slew of brands have suffered when their posts were judged to be in poor taste. Not so with Kikkoman, which showed it’s attuned to the social conversation and has a cultivated sense of taste. In its Twitter post, the brand pointed out, “No, there’s no soy sauce Slurpee in the works.” (Thank goodness.)
Looks like everyone’s getting their free @slurpee on today! As a brand that also appreciates all kinds of flavor, here are some of our favorite Slurpee food pairings (no, there’s no soy sauce Slurpee in the works). Happy #7ElevenDay! pic.twitter.com/a6gFzuQbVf
— Kikkoman USA (@KikkomanKitchen) July 11, 2018
Seth Arenstein is editor of PR News. Follow Seth: @skarenstein