How Sharks Brought 7-Eleven and Discovery Channel Together

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How Sharks Brought 7-Eleven and Discovery Channel Together

Walking into my local 7-Eleven convenience store, you can’t help but notice the current promotion “GRAB A BITE: Shark Week!”

Usually these promotions are reserved for two Hollywood blockbuster films and tie in to large licensing franchises. But this month, it’s all about a cable television station and a week of its programming. You’ve probably heard of “Shark Week” somewhere before.

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is now the longest-running cable television programming event in history with audiences in over 72 countries sitting at the edge of their seats during a week of shark-filled TV programming in July or August every year.

As I get in line to check out, two young adults ahead of me are trading stories about some docu-fiction shark shows. Two parties back behind me are some little kids who are jazzed about getting their shark-themed big gulp merchandise.

In store, the Shark Week promotion even extended to their cups. “Only” $1.99 for an extra large cup. Putting shark graphics on it and verbiage like “stays hot while you’re swimming with the sharks” lets them tie in the promotion and charge a a whopping two bucks for a foam coffee cup. Note: If you get a shark-less cup of coffee, any size is $.99 right now. Get one with sharks (on a disposable cup) and you’ll double the price. Genius, ain’t it?

What the Church can learn from Sharkweek

So what is happening here from a messaging standpoint? Well, 7-Eleven is capitalizing on the key concept for messaging and promotion.

One of my core communications frameworks for public relations and message development is: TED is your friend in PR. T – E – D.

The E in T.E.D. stands for EVENTS. 

When you’re able to position your story/news/product/offering through the lens of a single or short-term event, The event becomes the hook and focus for what you are offering. There is an implied sense of urgency and limited offer attached to any promotion leveraging the event.

Shark Week is the leading edge of the offering here – it is the EVENT, and when leading with that in the messaging, it makes you want The $1.99 foam cup.  For many it is hard to subordinate the organization’s own promotional item – the actual program, service, event, etc.  But if you have the discipline to do it, it works quite well.  In fact, this is working a little like newsjacking, but with a little looser association and integration requirement.

Shark Week is the bandwagon upon which crazy straws and newfangled themed versions of the same products (straws, cups and doughnuts) become celebrated and sought after.  It’s a win for Discovery Channel for awareness and affinity.  It’s a win for 7-Eleven because they need a constant stream of new promotions to keep customers coming through their doors without becoming stale.

What’s YOUR win-win opportunity?  If you take a moment to pull back and open up your consideration set, you’ll surely find something to work with in the short-term.



Kenny Jahng is a content marketing advisor and communications strategist who helps nonprofit, cause-driven and faith-based organizations / churches. You can connect with Kenny on Twitter @kennyjahng

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