Casa Sanchez, a California-based Mexican restaurant, has announced that it will resurrect a promotion that gives free food for life to any customer that has a tattoo of the restaurant’s logo emblazoned on their skin. While lovers of Mexican food may be tempted, is this an example of brand loyalty gone too far?
Casa Sanchez originally started the tattoos-for-tacos campaign in 1999 to draw in customers, and even back then the family-owned restaurant’s employees were skeptical of its efficacy. But it succeeded, thanks to the brand’s unique customers. “If it wasn’t in San Francisco, we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off,” said business partner Martha Sanchez, giving credit to the city’s quirky clientele.[more]
Customers can order any menu item with a drink in exchange for a four-inch tattoo of the Casa Sanchez mascot, Jimmy the Cornman, a little boy atop of a fire-powered ear of corn. While the tattoo costs an estimated $100, consumers can easily make up that price in an endless supply of enchiladas, burritos and tacos. The Wall Street Journal highlighted that Casa Sanchez “stood to lose $5.8 million if the deal’s takers – capped at 50 people – ate there daily for 50 years.” The campaign is clearly designed to garner exposure gained by the now-notorious campaign and its result: human billboards, walking around as free advertisements for the Casa Sanchez brand.
At a time where uncertainty and unemployment abound, offers of a free meal become an attraction. “It’s like an insurance policy. When you literally have $2 to your name… it’s nice to be able to eat,” said Duncan Davidson, a long-time customer who recently lost his job. It may not be filet mignon, but a steak taco can be just as appealing after a long day, especially when it doesn’t cost a penny.