Pres. Obama's Slurpee Summit was a bust Thursday, as it was sucked up in bipartisan politics. But Americans and retailing giant 7-Eleven were the ultimate winners in this Slurpee Summit side show.
7-Eleven is offering a free small Slurpee drink at all its stores nationwide on Nov. 26, as part of its "Purple for the People" campaign. That campaign was born out of 7-Eleven's Slurpee Unity Tour 2010, which hit the road within 48 hours after Pres. Obama uttered the words "delicious" and "Slurpee Summit" during a press conference earlier this month to discuss a post election meeting with Republicans. The president had referred to GOP lawmakers as a lazy, Slurpee sucking bunch of politicians, in contrast to Democrats, who, he said, toiled away on legislative matters.
Although the Slurpee Summit was rescheduled to Nov. 30, that didn't stop 7-Eleven from plowing forward with its party plans last night.
Obama and Republican House leader John Boehner, (R-Ohio) were each sent a handblown glass Slurpee Cup, encased in a fancy wooden box, along with snazzy invitations to a Slurpee Summit party last night in Washington, D.C. where people were encouraged to wear purple ties.
"We sent invitations to Pres. Obama and Rep. Boehner, and all the other members of Congress and their staff," said Margaret Chabis, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman.
She noted that as of yesterday, 7-Eleven had not heard a peep from the White House about Obama making a guest appearance, nor a desire to take the company up on its offer of catering a Slurpee Summit with Slurpees, or installing Slurpee machines in the White House.
"We contacted people who we knew in D.C. and who had worked on his [election] campaign," Chabis said. "We haven't heard back, but we have the audacity to hope."
Perhaps Obama is no Ronald Reagan. Reagan loved Jelly Bellies, which were shipped to Washington, D.C. for his 1981 Inauguration.
Although the Slurpee Summit has been rescheduled for later this month, Chabis said the company does not plan to hold another round of events for the new date.
"We went into overdrive from the time that Obama said Slurpees are delicious," Chabis recalled. 7-Eleven assembled a convoy of five of their trucks to make stops between its headquarters in Texas to Washington D.C., serving up between 7,000 to 8,000 free Slurpees since departing on Nov. 5.
And that figure is likely to grow exponentially once it holds its free Purple Friday event on Nov. 26. Folks looking to grab a Slurpee are required to visit the company's Facebook Slurpee page on the day of the event, where they can download a coupon entitling them to a free small slushy drink.
"It's incredible how quickly some companies can react," said Mike Gatti, executive director of the National Retail Federation's International Retail Advertising and Marketing Association division. "I've seen it both ways. It's about how ingenious your marketing department is and if they are paying attention to what's happening in the news. Some people react quickly to seize opportunities; some a couple days later, and some not at all because of their policies."
After the Slurpee Summit campaign, you can imagine marketers are keeping a particularly close ear on any words uttered by Obama's that may hint at an endorsement of a product or service.