It’s World Series time, and for the few that are familiar with certain fast-food marketing campaigns, it’s also “the possibility of a free taco time”. Every year during the MLB’s World Series, Taco Bell rolls out their “Steal a base, steal a taco” promotion- promising a free taco to EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY if a base is stolen during one of the World Series games. The promotion has become so popular among both Taco Bell and baseball fans alike, that even former President Obama commented on the promotion while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The player which steals the base is coined the “Taco Hero”; and this year’s Taco Hero is Cameron Maybin of the Houston Astros for stealing second base in the 11th inning during Game 2 of the World Series, and subsequently stealing our taco-loving hearts.
Free food promotions are not new, especially in the fast-food industry where companies like Chick-Fil-A and 7-11 take a day out of the year to offer free chicken entrees and Slurpees, respectively. Grocers are in the game too- with Costco offering so many free samples you could make a meal out of tasting them all, and local grocers like Publix offering not only free samples of store-created dishes but weekly “buy one, get one free” sales.
For a consumer, the idea of receiving food without cost is not only pleasing to the stomach, it’s also mentally satisfying. According to Dr. Khaled Aboulnasr, the Department Chair of Marketing at Florida Gulf Coast University, consumers are drawn to free food giveaways because it allows them to engage with a product they already enjoy. And for those that aren’t as familiar, he says, it creates a trial to allow them to try the food. But the reward isn’t just for consumers, the company running the food-giveaway promotion wins in the long run. “They end up making money. Yes, it is a cost. [Giving away food] represents a cost to the business. But it’s a cost that yields returns, that leads to an increase in sales.”
If the return of a particular promotion means success, at Taco Bell, they’re batting 1000 with their World Series campaign. This isn’t the first year that the Mexican-inspired fast-food staple has offered the deal. According to a Taco Bell rep, the event has been offered six times since it was rolled out in 2007. Back then, the Doritos Locos Taco wasn’t on the menu, so a regular taco was folded into the deal. While the rep wasn’t able to tell us exactly how many tacos were served, she told us “millions of free tacos” were served across America in 2016- the last time they ran the promotion- and they plan to do the same again this year.
There’s no doubt that baseball is popular in SWFL with The Twins, The Red Sox, and The Rays already calling the area home to their spring training camps. However, fans don’t have the chance to capitalize on similar food giveaways often offered by teams’ local restaurants during the regular season. Taco Bell fixes this problem in the World Series and offers the taco treat to ANYONE, at ANY participating location nationwide, and as long as supplies last, of course.
The Taco Bell “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” will take place between 2pm and 6pm on Thursday, November 1, 2017. If your local Taco Bell is participating (I know the one on Colonial Blvd. off College Pkwy is!), no purchase is necessary and you can even score the deal at the drive-thru window, so long as you mention it at the intercom when ordering. Happy Free Taco Day everyone! And may the best team win in Game 7! Just kidding, go Dodger