It's 7-Eleven Day, so slurp it up! Highlighting the obvious tie-in between its brand name and event marketing manna from heaven, 7-Eleven stores long ago picked July 11 (7/11) at the height of North America's summer to throw a party and drive customers to the Slurpee machine.
To celebrate the convenience store chain's 85th year in business, 7-Eleven is giving away free 7.11 (of course) ounce Slurpee drinks between 11 AM and 7 PM local time (not, alas, 7 AM-11 PM) on 7/11/12. Last year, 7-Eleven handed out 5 million Slurpee drinks on 7-Eleven Day. This year, how many do you think they expect to distribute? Why, 7 million, of course.
To add a little promotional bump to 7-Eleven Day, Slurpee marketing partner Six Flags will offer a special admission price of $7.11 to guests after 7:11 PM on 7-Eleven Day when they present a receipt from a 7-Eleven purchase dated 7/11/12. There will be a special "7-Eleven Coasters After Dark" event at the amusement parks. 7-Eleven Day also calls attention to 7-Eleven's Big Summer Sweeps campaign, a summer-long, storewide, peel-and-win contest with more than $2 million in prizes.
7-Eleven Day has been celebrated on July 11 for decades, but ten years ago, the chain decided to host birthday parties with free Slurpee drinks for all customers. Slurpee is one of those legendary brand stories that came about by accident.
It all began with a broken soda-fountain machine at a drive-in hamburger restaurant in Kansas. To make up for the loss of soda, proprietor Omar Knedlik began serving his customers icy-cold bottled soft drinks that he kept chilled in a deep freeze. The soda had turned to slush, and it turns out that his customers loved it.
Knedlik and his partner Dean Sperry took their idea in 1959 to a Dallas machinery manufacturer who designed a piece of equipment that would re-create the slush in quantity and turn it into something that could be sipped through a straw. While the machine wasn't a big hit with retailers in general, 7-Eleven invested in three of them and did a product test in 1965. The slushy drink, which became known as Slurpee, was an immediate hit and machines were installed in almost every store just two years later.
Today, Slurpee is the anchor brand for 7-Eleven's approximately 9,300 stores in North America. Globally, there are more than 46,800 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries.
As for Slurpee, its popularity soars during the hot summer months. This year, the chain introduced its first diet Slurpee, the Fanta Sugar-Free Mango in May, followed by the July debut of Fanta Sugar-Free Strawberry Banana and Fanta Lemon Creme, along with regular Slurpee flavors.
Healthy consumers rank 7-Eleven stores as one of the top 10 best perceived grocery chains, ahead of brands such as Winn Dixie, Wild Oats, A&P, and Stop and Shop, according to YouGov BrandIndex, which does online interviews of more than 1 million consumers annually.
In other Slurpee-related marketing, 7-Eleven expects to give away 1 million free Slurpees to kids through the "Operation Chill" community relations program with local law enforcement officials.
And overseas, Australia brought back, in March, the market's "Bring Your Own Cup Day," which saw 7-Eleven employees happily fill customers' tumblers, jugs and more — regardless of size, the same price for everyone: