Most PR pros would salivate over the opportunity to have a brand and event tie-in opportunity like 7-Eleven has each year. Since 2002, after the Fourth of July fades away, 7-Eleven offers customers a chance to beat the summer heat with a free Slurpee on 7-Eleven Day, July 11.
Though in its 85th year of business, this marks just the 10th year that 7-Eleven stores began hosting coast-to-coast birthday parties.
7-Eleven Day gets bigger and more popular every year. “This year we expect to give away 7 million Slurpee drinks, more than ever before, beating last year’s offer by 2 million,” says Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven president and CEO, in a press release. “But the day is also when we do something special to thank customers for their support and welcome new guests.”
For 2012, the PR efforts go beyond writing a press release and pitching traditional media, which 7-Eleven has done (Google results of "7-Eleven Day" provides a bevy of links from Patch.com local networks, indicating that 7-Eleven has taken a hyperlocal strategy to drive customers to the locations nearest them).
On social media, the @7eleven Twitter account has been responding to several high-profile accounts, including @FashionWeekNYC, @TodayShow and @TWCMikeBettes, the account of Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes.
These replies are part of a strategy to engage publicly with influencers, and not with every Twitter user who tweets about his or her free Slurpee. That falls in line with the @7eleven account description, which states: "Want customer service help? Follow us, tweet @7Eleven, and we’ll DM you."
7-Eleven may have missed out on other opportunities. This popular product presents the brand with an array of visual possibilities (think of the potential for celebrity photos). Not having a presence on Pinterest or Instagram for the day—considering there are over 13,250 photos tagged with "7eleven" on Instagram—is a mistake. (To be fair, 7-Eleven México does a have delicious-looking Instagram presence.)
That said, NBC's Today did feature a segment with a 7-Eleven team promoting 7-Eleven Day, which the @todayshow Instagram account then pushed out. In this case, the traditional media strategy led the social media strategy. Either way, it turned out to be a successful and tasty day for 7-Eleven.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg