Expensive Sales Promotion or Cheap Publicity? Welcome to the Marketing Jungle

Dr. Pepper went out on a limb earlier this year by promising everyone in the U.S. a free can of soda if heavy metal rockers Guns N' Roses released a new studio album. Since the band has been quiet for 17 years, it seemed like a reasonable possibility that it would not have to pay off on the promise.

Now, it appears that free Dr. Pepper for all is just ahead. The band is scheduled to release a studio album, "Chinese Democracy," on November 23. Assuming the release occurs as scheduled, Dr. Pepper plans to make available one free can of product per person to anyone who comes to the Dr. Pepper web site and registers for a coupon on November 23.

Will this promotion go down as one of the most expensive in the history of marketing? If all 300 million or so people in the U.S. took advantage of the offer, one estimate is that the promotion would cost Dr. Pepper $165 million dollars. Of course, not everyone has the desire or the means to log on to request a free soda on November 23. So, regardless of the final cost of the promotion, it is likely that Dr. Pepper will enjoy brand publicity that will be much more valuable than the cost of the sales promotion. As long as GNR does not do anything to embarrass Dr. Pepper, this promotion should be a PR success for both the band and Dr. Pepper.

Link: AdAge.com - "Free Dr. Pepper for All as Guns N' Roses Album Release is Set"