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 (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 the f*ck cares? If you've ever actually redeemed a single-serving bottle of water after a Bulls game, you're officially a douchebag. Just because a bottled water costs 8 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.

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 Hispanic woman at the register looked at my card, then handed it to the Hispanic 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?”
MDM: “Yes.”
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.

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.

And now for a:

Speaking of promotions, ER is about to go off the air this month, and as the show concludes its 15 season run, NBC is pulling out all the promotional stops to perfume over the rotting corpse stench of a show that stayed around far, far too long.

Enjoy the latest Evil Ted video creation, with some nice baritone-pipes narration work from Basketbawful. If you have a problem clicking below ( embeded vids can be quirky), click here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Everytime I go to the United Center, the Dunkin Donuts race gets a better reaction than the Bulls. No lie. The bagel winning got more of a reaction than the Bulls beating Boston last week.

Blogger David Menéndez said...
"And Michael Crichton" did it for me. Nice, ET, nice. Thanks for sharing.

(Am I the only loser that was actually suckered in by the last eps of ER? It's just such a perfect invitation to wallow in some good ol' TV show nostalgia...)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This report was as riveting and eye-opening as the one about the homophobic Nike ad scandal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
APPLAUSE!!! Did McD' give you a Mac or not, after that? They obviously should have.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Nothing to do with the Bulls and I'm sure you've already seen it but this is too good to be true:

That's gotta be up there with that time the Ghostbusters had to cross the streams in terms of threats to the very fabric of our Universe.

Blogger Raf said...
Dude, I'm so glad to read your anger with this too.

I go to the games and I can't take my eyes off the court.

But they have to add all these other contests and free giveaways to keep the non-fans entertained enough to come back.

Most Bulls games I've gone to, the Bulls have won. And people cheer louder for the Mcdonalds t-shirts than the team.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I was just about to post that same link jhaig. It just made WAY too much sense. Spurned by Jerry West so they turn to Isiah Thomas. Doesn't that sum up the Clippers just perfectly?

If he is hired then Marcus Camby would probably have to go, but there's no way Thomas is keeping an unathletic white guy (Chris Kaman) as his starting center so I can totally see him trading one for Eddy Curry and the other for Jamal Crawford. He'd probably also give up Eric Gordon and Steve Novak in the process just because he can.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
jhaig: This link deserves to be a proper link because this could be the most amazing thing ever to happen to this site. More impactful than the effect on the newspaper comics business if G W Bush came back for 8 more years. This site's banner picture would definitely need to be changed. Instead of punctuation marks in sentences, there'd be an endless supply of Isiah/Clips jokes.

Also, sometimes there's beauty simply in final scores. 140-135, lol.

Blogger Edgar said...
Genius, the entire post!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I was asking myself the other day when ET would rear his hideous head once again on Basketbawful :D

Nice post, ET- you actually interviewed a McD's manager? Awesome. Was he a Harvard graduate?

"Although not all of you can be the Ronald himself- each of you is McDonald's Team Leader material!" -Ali G to the Harvard Graduating Class

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have these A&W coupons that give me huge discounts. Whenever I use them the cashier never takes them. I just flash the coupon and put it in my pocket and he never cares.

I've used the same coupon five times, becoming obese in the process.


Blogger Sean François said...
As a lifelong Bulls fan, and having the chance to live in Chicago and go to a lot of games during the '06-'07 season - this post is absolutely hilarious.

You couldn't be any more spot on with the Hinkley Water giveaway...what a joke that was...good to see they have realized how lame it truly was.

Your investigative work for Dunkin DOnuts and McDonald's was just classic - "ocho, ocho" - lol

Maan, I still have some of those coupons from that season...I assume your Dunkin Donuts coupon was expired? If so next time I'm in town I should try and use a 2 year old one for the helluv it :-)

Well done sir, well done.