Yesterday (Sunday, September 13) I saw an TV spot for TGI Fridays. The gist was, become a Facebook Fan of some guy named Woody and you could get a free burger. The call to action included a time-based element – Woody needed 500,000 fans by September 30. Woody hit his magic number with about 2 weeks to spare. Nice job Fridays, but now the work begins. I hope you take a lesson from one of your rivals, Chili’s, who took a crack at Social Media earlier this year.
Back in the spring, Chili’s launched a clever campaign based on the notion that there was a restaurant called PJ Blands. Their food was made of cardboard – literally. Chili’s of course was the exact opposite. They created a great website for PJ Blands, funny and clever and they started a Twitter account for PJ Bland himself. DJ Francis tipped me off to the Twitter feed and the following conversation followed:
Well, as you can see I was sceptical at first, but I was assured by PJ Bland himself that he would be around in a year – so May of 2010 then. Then, look what we see in June 2009 (just one month later). A note saying PJ’s Twittering days are over. They amassed over 1,500 followers, then turned it off. It’s not the fault of the guy doing the tweeting, it was just a one time joke that wasn’t sustainable for a longer commitment – kind of like all those horrible movies inspired by mildly funny five minute SNL skits.
So, now it’s TGI Friday’s turn. They got 500,000+ fans on Facebook, and to get the free burger you had to give you email address. Now, how are they going to keep this relationship going? How are theygoing to engage us and keep us interested? What Consumer ROI will I get, beyond one free burger?
Building a community off of one free burger is a pretty dangerous exercise. First, you’ve conditioned us to expect free stuff. That’s the transaction, right? We friend you, you give us a free burger. Well, what next? What do I have to do for free fries? This is beginning to sound like Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice Facebook campaign.
I hope Friday’s learns how to bring value to the community in new ways. I don’t go to Friday’s that often, this is an opportunity to earn some customer loyalty.
UPDATE: I took a look at the Facebook FanWoody page again and it looks like TGI Friday’s is scrambling. People who signed up after the 500,000 mark was hit are now wondering if they are going to get a burger. “Woody” is promising something huge if everybody will just be patient and consumers are sniping at each other with “you snooze you lose” and “it’s just a burger, calm down” comments.
I’m not privy to the inside communications at TGIF, but it seems as though they didn’t have a strong contingency plan in place for hitting the 500K mark so quickly. Another example, I saw the ad last night on TV with the Facebook call to action, though the number had been reached about 24 hours earlier. No second ad ready with a thank you to all the fans?
The official Friday’s website also still has the 500K call to action.
I’d love to hear from a TGI Friday’s rep (or for that matter a Chili’s rep on their program) to find out what they plan on doing with the now 600K+ fans Woody has? As I’m assuming Woody is an actor, how long were they planning on using him as their spokesperson? Or will these 600K people who have “fanned” Woody simply be migrated to a generic TGI Friday’s Facebook page? Is that what they signed up for? Did they just sign up for the free burger only to disappear anyway? Was this just a short term play by TGI Friday’s to get people in the door by the end of the quarter? If so, I’m not sure Social Media was the best vehicle.