The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

7-Eleven Stays a Step Ahead

It’s now official. I have suspected this for some time now, but the “good” folks at 7-Eleven have a hand on my wallet at all times. Frankly, it’s just sick. A few years back when they rolled out the not-so-innocent sounding “Slurp-and-Gulp” (you have to click on the link to get an appreciation for this drink - and yes, the link is completely safe). I was hooked on this occasional weekend indulgence. That was fine. It wasn’t an everyday purchase, so it was no real strain on my wallet (and if it had become an everyday thing, the risk wouldn't have been on my wallet, but on my health - as is the case with nearly all things 7-Eleven).

Over time, though, they seem to have launched new products every few months that appeal directly to me. Actually, these products may appeal only to me. Seriously – where else (other than a trendy club where you’d pay $8 or more per bottle) could you find beer in aluminum bottles last fall? Only at 7-Eleven.

(And I think the previous sentence is actually one of their tag lines. They’ve really got me now)

Recently though their efforts have seemed even more Orwellian to me. I’m not sure if other people even hear their marketing messages. They seem to be aimed just at me. And today, in looking for information about one of their newer products on the web, I came across this little gem – which only confirms that they are targeting me directly. How could I possibly resist a Slurpee that comes in special Yoda packaging? Obviously, I can’t resist such a thing - especially when Yoda’s head turn colors:

"You pick up Yoda by his ears and his head turns green," said Kevin Cooper, manager of all-things-Slurpee at 7-Eleven Inc.

At this point it doesn’t even phase me that Kevin’s actual title at 7-Eleven Inc probably actually is “manager of all-things-Slurpee.” In fact, I’m quite sure that’s his title. Scarier still, Kevin probably has a degree or two in marketing and uses that training (quiet adeptly I might add) to extract money from me (and many others, or at least I hope) one and two dollars at a time.
So know that you know about the Slurp-and-Gulp and while you wait for the release of the famed Yoda cup, what can you do in the meantime? Well, the geniuses at 7-Eleven are one step ahead of you. This is how I imagine it all went down:

Scene: 7-Eleven marketing wonks fill a large boardroom

Marketing Exec #1: Our research indicates that consumers in the jug-size soda market are becoming increasingly dis-satisfied with the options they have for enhancing their beverages. Studies have indicated that many potential patrons have resorted to buying 2-liter bottles of soda and pints of ice cream at competing stores and combining the soda and ice cream into one delicious treat – often using a paint bucket or other large receptacle to mix the two together.

Marketing Exec #2: My God! What can we do? It sounds like we are losing some of our best customers!

Marketing Exec #3: I have an idea! What if we produce ice cream that can easily be attached to our Big Gulps? Customers love the size and convenience of our Big Gulps. With an appropriately tailored ice cream container, we could corner the

And that my friends is precisely what they’ve done. Read the description of the new product here:
One of the most popular products on display and for sampling yesterday was the all-in-one Big Gulp Ice Cream Float. It's a scoop of ice cream in a bowl that attaches to the lid of a soft-drink cup. Those handing out the samples demonstrated how to plop the ice cream into the cup before filling it to the brim with root beer. Or take your pick from whatever soda is on tap.
It’s such a disturbing product that it is difficult to describe without seeing it in person. Unfortunately though, I was unable to find any images of it on the Internet. Maybe this is just something that they’re test-marketing for the time being. That would certainly seem possible. The little green men who think of such things probably follow me around and set up the displays in store just as I enter.


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