Editor’s note: This is a cross-post of an expose my buddy Evil Ted did for Basketbawful. Not something I normally do, but after hearing Captain Kirk get freaking booed after a critical win, I felt people should know…the truth.
Last night in Chicago, the Bulls managed to beat the Pistons 99–91, a critical win that keeps them well positioned in the middle of the race for a 7th or 8th seed playoff berth in the East. Playing in place of injured Derrick Rose (bruised wrist), Kirk Hinrich played almost 46 minutes, went 10 for 23, scored 24 points, and was just all around scrappy and solid…and was booed by his hometown crowd. Why? Because at the end of the game, he missed a free throw that would have given the Bulls 100 points, which is the magic number of points required (assuming the Bulls win) for the fans to cash in on McDonald’s “free Big Mac” promotion.
Fan ignorance and classlessness aside (It’s shameful that Kirk actually had to say “Sorry everyone” to booing fans at the conclusion of his post-game interview), I wanted to know if there was even a reason to boo – i.e., how strictly do participating companies adhere to their Bulls promotions?
Promotion test #1: Dunkin’ Donuts Race
The Contest Premise: A drunken dunut, a strung-out bagel, and a hopped-up cup of coffee race around a track on the UC Jumbotron. If the food/drink item singled out on your card wins the race, you can get a free whatever-it-is.
Test: Go to a Dunkin’ Donuts with my doughnut Card (because I like doughnuts) and see if I can get a free doughnut… even though the bagel won the race.
Result: I went to a Dunkin’ Donuts near my office and nervously handed the woman behind the counter my card. She looked at the card and said “Free doughnut?” and I nodded. This appeared to be the extent of DD’s crack security measures. The woman proceeded to toss the card into the garbage and hand me a free doughnut.
Ashamed of myself, I considered revealing to the woman that the doughnut hadn’t even won the race, but did not want to spend a night in jail…or have my free doughnut taken back, for that matter. Incidentally, I had a French Cruller, and it was, as always, awesome.
Conclusion: Cheer all you want for your food item at the Bulls game, but don’t fret if it loses. Every card is a winner.
Promotion #2: The Hinkley Springs Truck Race
The Contest Premise: Three boring, nondescript water trucks (cleverly titled “1,” “2,” and “3”) race around a track. If the truck number on your card wins, you get a free bottle of water, which you can redeem at…I have no idea where.
Test: None. It’s water. Who freaking cares? If you’ve ever actually redeemed a single-serving bottle of water after a Bulls game, you’re officially ridiculous. Just because a bottled water costs eight bucks at the United Center doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Bottled water is an environment killer, a waste of hard-earned money, and last I checked, the same stuff comes out of taps everywhere in the Chicagoland area. Minus the brown chunks, of course.
Conclusion: Bottled water does not lend itself to contests — unless you’re giving away money. Hinkley Springs has apparently realized how dumb the free water is, and is now trying to redeem itself by giving a couple of fans a shot at a million dollars. Truck races: derivative and dumb. Giving some fans a chance at real money: much better.
Promotion #3: Score Big. McDonald’s Big Mac Promo.
The Contest Premise: If the Chicago Bulls score 100 points and win at home, the cardholder has 48 hours to go to McDonald’s to receive a free Big Mac.
Caveat: By the time I figured out I wanted to test this promotion, my Big Mac Bulls card was well over four months old. Still, I wanted to see just how closely employees would scrutinize the card.
Test: See if McDonald’s will accept a four-month-old card from a game in which the Bulls did not score 100 points.
Result: The little woman at the register looked at my card, then handed it to the lady at the register next to her, who passed it to a third. Then they all looked at me and said “ocho, ocho,” which translates loosely into “This card is from 2008, you moron.” There’s nothing quite as humiliating as getting “Are you an idiot?” looks from a bunch of McDonald’s employees. So in the end, my test was compromised by the outdated card. Dammit.
Realizing that even if my card had been less than 48-hours old, it would not mean too much if it were accepted at a single McDonald’s location, I decided the best thing to do would be to discuss the issue with a McDonald’s manager. Here’s my best recollection of the interview:
Evil Ted (producing 4-month-old Big Mac card): “You’ve seen these, right?”
McDonald’s Manager: “Yes.”
ET: “Now, Kirk Hinrich was booed last night because-”
MDM: “Huh, who?”
ET: “Forget it. Let me ask you this, do you know whether the Bulls scored 100 points last night?”
ET: “And how do you know?”
MDM: “We get a call.”
ET: “And do you tell the employees working the register whether to accept these cards?”
MDM: “I tell them whether the promotion is effective, yes.”
ET: “So you won’t accept an invalid card?”
MDM: “If it’s one person, I might let them get one. If it’s the difference between a happy customer and an angry customer, I’d prefer a happy one, and probably give the Big Mac. If there were twenty people looking to abuse the contest, then I would have to reconsider. In the end, a Big Mac is not really a big deal to McDonald’s.”
I then proceeded to ask if he would accept a four-month old card, to which he looked nervous. I laughed and said “fuhgetabout it.” I figured I already got a Big Mac’s worth of info out of him.
Conclusion: If you are not a rude, classless jerkweed, there are pretty good odds you will come across a McDonald’s manager willing to give up a sandwich for the sake of a happy customer.
Sub-conclusion: If you booed Kirk Hinrich despite his solid performance leading the Bulls to a critical victory, there are pretty good odds that you are, in fact, a rude, classless jerkweed, so the initial conclusion is therefore invalid, just like the Big Mac hard you’re holding.