It’s not uncommon for companies to run big-promise promotions—get a free ring if it rains on your wedding day, or your meal is paid for if you can eat a 50-ounce steak in under an hour. They’re good for generating buzz, and the risk of needing to fulfill that big promise is slim because, in those types of promotions, the odds are usually intentionally in the promisee’s favor—maybe the contest only runs in the dry season, or eating a 50-ounce steak in an hour is near impossible. But sometimes there’s a miscalculation.
That’s what happened on Sept. 7, when the Cleveland Indians won their 15th straight game. The victory meant that Universal Windows Direct was suddenly on the hook for a promotion it ran in July in honor of the company’s 15th anniversary. The Cleveland-based firm, with locations in 20 states, promised full rebates in the event of such a streak. How much was at stake? $1.7 million.
OK, so, the company didn’t have to pay out quite that much. When co-owners William Barr and Mike Strmac first conceived the idea, they were forward-thinking enough to take out an insurance policy with a $75,000 premium to cover their risk. So, was the promotion worth it? It looks that way. Sales for Universal Windows Direct in Cleveland and Columbus were reportedly double the normal levels in July, with stronger revenue numbers continuing throughout the summer. And news of the promotion quickly spread, getting mentions on ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and CNBC, among others.
That kind of publicity is priceless.