Free Slurpee Day From 7-Eleven: A Marketing Refresher

Posted by Beau Phillips on July 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

7-11 Free Slurpee Day

The planets aligned for 7-Eleven stores yesterday.  The company celebrated their birthday (on July 11th) by giving away free Slurpees at every location.  And the weather was hot across the country. 

7-Eleven estimates they attracted more than 7 million people yesterday – and that Slurpee sales alone rose 40%.  They struck marketing gold yesterday and dominated the water cooler talk.   For one day, the iconic, generic C-stores became a destination.  A beacon for thirsty people everywhere. 

Oh thank heaven for Free Slurpee Day.  It was far more than a promotional stunt.  7-Eleven put on a marketing clinic - and here are some lessons we can learn.

They kept it simple.   Come into a 7-Eleven store and get a free Slurpee.  Then leave…or maybe pick up gum, beer or a lotto ticket.  After all, the Slurpee was free.

Offered immediate gratification.  Just help yourself between 7am – 11pm.

Reminded us what 7-Eleven is famous for.  Slurpees have been popular for decades.  But recently, they have lost share to smoothies and frozen yogurt.  Yesterday, Slurpees were top-of-mind again.

The power of free.  People expect deep discounts now, if not free.  Apple Stores just gave away free apps to celebrate their 5th birthday.   With their big re-launch due soon, are you ready for Free Twinkie Tuesday?   Fans would respond like the running of the bulls.

Free advertising/promotion.  7-Eleven probably generated $1 billion in media value.  Not a bad R.O.I for paper cups filled with crushed ice and syrup.

Increased store traffic.  There are 50,000 7-Eleven stores.   The average store drew 1,000 people on July 11th.  In other words, 50 million customers walked through 7-Eleven’s doors yesterday.  Let the upselling begin. 

Timely and topical.  It didn’t hurt that July 11th was a hot day.  Who wouldn’t want a cool Slurpee?

Branding leadership.   7-11 reinforced their brand as the convenience store of choice. 

Goodwill.  7-11 polished their image with this stunt.   The Slurpee freeloaders won’t forget and will return again.

So, thanks for the free Slurpee, 7-Eleven.  And for reminding us about the power of creative marketing. 

If you need help establishing or reinforcing your company’s brand, contact Beau Phillips.  Beau is the President of Rainmaker Media and has years of experience creating successful marketing plans through the use of effective positioning.  Contact Beau at



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