Choosing the Right Franchise

What the Super Bowl Tells You about Franchisors

The Super Bowl may be an American institution, but it’s also a prime marketing opportunity. Halftime shows feature superstars and the ads not only cost as much as an indie flick, but they also get the kind of social media traction the average indie flick can only dream of.

Some of us may be planning a home-cooked feast for Super Bowl and Pinterest is filled with clever snapshots of football-shaped cakes, but mostly Super Bowl is for carry out food what Black Friday is for retailers.

So if you’re in the market for a food-related franchise business opportunity, the perfect research opportunity is at hand.  SuperBowl Sunday is a great time to get a look at the promotional savvy of the franchises you’re considering.

  • Burger King wants a nugget war with McDonald’s, and they’re ready to let those chicken chunks go for 15 cents apiece to steel attention from their competitor. This kind of loss leader promotion is often unpopular with franchisees, because it can so easily lose money. The franchisor is betting that it can lure consumers away from competitors, but sometimes those consumers just buy the specials and don’t become regular customers. If too much of that happens, the franchisee can lose money. Burger King is not requiring franchisees to opt in to the promotion. Those that can afford the gamble will get the benefit of some serious marketing dollars. Those who aren’t ready to take the chance don’t have to. Looks like Burger King listens to franchisees — and doesn’t back off from big opportunities.
  • Papa John’s is offering a special “coin toss” deal on their website, and promising free pizzas if the game goes into overtime. Plenty of points for creativity. But they’re also insuring the deal, so franchisees will be protected if they end up sending out a lot of free food. The franchisor is doing this on their own dime, not requiring any additional funding from franchisees. Not only does Papa John’s protect their franchisees, but they parlayed that protection into a story in the Wall Street Journal, which means more publicity. Since the Super Bowl has never gone into overtime yet, they get even more points for smart marketing.
  • McDonald’s is airing a Super Bowl spot and not saying what it will show, but the lead-up to the big game is focusing on individual franchisees. The marquee’s under the McDonald’s golden arches sign gives franchisees a chance to share their own chosen message with passersby, and the new McDonald’s TV commercial highlights those community messages. While cynical viewers may think McDonald’s is taking an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the individual franchisees and how McDonald’s isn’t really a joint employer, consumers won’t be thinking about that.

How about the franchises you’re looking at? You may not be looking at a franchise large enough to buy air time for the Super Bowl, but chances are good that their approach to Super Bowl promotions will still give you insight into how savvy they are with marketing — and that will affect your success.

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