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Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Promotion: Genius or Flop?


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Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Ann Arbor thought it had a great deal on the docket for University of Michigan football fans. For every point the Michigan football team scored, guests were able to get 1 percent off their check. It was a fun, creative idea until the Wolverines actually took the field and dominated the Scarlett Knights of Rutgers 78-0 last Saturday.

This brings to mind other ill-fated franchise promotions such as when KFC offered free two-piece chicken meals with two sides and a biscuit on the Oprah Winfrey show. When the dust settled, KFC ended up giving away $42 million worth of freebies.

Many other promotions, notably Papa John’s, do half off deals after a local team wins. However, stores rarely do promotions on “points scored” because it’s so out of their control.

The promotion wasn’t nearly as disastrous as it could have been for the location, as they wisely decided to cap the deal at 50 percent off before the game started. Still, 50 percent off of a check at an upscale fine dining steakhouse is nothing to scoff at.

This idea may have worked out for the chain; the Ann Arbor location is reportedly booked up until Thursday, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he’s planning on grabbing a steak at the restaurant. So, just maybe, this debacle turned into a stroke of PR genius for the location. 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is staff writer at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 
Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nanweingartner.
 

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