Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kronos' Bonehead Free Gyro SNAFU

Chicago is no stranger to lame brained public relations disasters.

Who can forget the 1970s disco demolition at Comiskey Park?

In that event, a local rock station teamed with the White Sox to offer free admission to a Sox game to everyone who brought a disco record. The decidedly anti-disco DJs were then to amass the records midfield and blow them up -- thereby making a profound statement as to the superiority of pure rock 'n roll.

Problems ensued, however, when the drunken Sox fans began flinging the records at each other and at the opposing team's players on the field like so many semi-lethal frisbees. After numerous cuts and gashes and subsequent fisticuffs were reported, MLB officials called the game in light of the general life-threatening brouhaha. The Sox were awarded a forfeit loss.

And then there was the Great Snow of 1979.

Who can forget the reports of Democrat Machine (soon to be ex-)Mayor Michael Bilandic lolling on the beach in Florida with his fetching wife, Heather, while his inept city machine remained impotent as Chicagoans were stranded in snowdrifts left by a paralysing blizzard?

Those were textbook PR disasters of the first order.

But they may have been surpassed by yesterday's Kronos Free Gyro Giveaway.

The geniuses at Chicago-based Gyros manufacturing giant, Kronos Foods decided to combat slumping sales of gyros sandwiches, by offerring an on-line coupon for a free gyro at any one of about 3 dozen participating Chicago fast food outlets on September 1st.

For the culinarily uninformed, a gyro is a kind of big sloppy agglomeration of pressed lamb sliced off a spit and put on pita bread, slathered in a yogurt-based sauce and covered with tomato slices and mounds of onions.

It was reportedly invented in Chicago in 1973.

During my college years, we found downing a gyro to be a perfect end to an evening of non-stop bar hopping and beer swilling. The conventional wisdom was that its gargantuan fat content would sop up the gallons of alcohol running thru our systems.

Of course the perfect end to an evening would have been to accompany a hot co-ed back to her place, in which case you definitely would not want a gyro, unless your date happened to be an Albanian shepherdess who thought that onion breath was a total turn-on.

Anyway, come September 1st and the participating Free Gyro Day fast food joints are deluged with mobs of people brandishing coupons for the free $5 Greek concoction.

Well in advance of the dinner hour, many were entirely out of supplies and were turning away customers in droves -- many of them quite angry.

Mangio's in Wrigleyville, fearful of antogonizing its regular customers, began offering cheaper Polish Sausages in lieu of the promised gyro. People were still leaving angry.

At Dengeo's on the Skokie-Evanston border, the traffic jam caused by free gyro seekers was wildly unprecedented.

When I saw the cars and throngs of people, I thought that maybe Elvis had been sighted there.

Dengeo's was turning away disappointed gyro seekers at the height of the dinner hour.

Several of their regular customers were fuming at being caught up in the mob scene. A manager stood at the door and announced to the irritated throng, "we couldn't give you a gyro even if you wanted to buy one."

I wonder what ensued at the gyro joints in the rougher sections of the South and West sides.

In any event, this couldn't have been the PR result the promotional mavens at Kronos envisioned.

I hear that next year they're going to try and top this by introducing their new all-pork gyro at Jewish and Muslim street fairs.


  1. So people were angry because they couldn't get for free that which normally isn't free anyway, using a coupon which disclaimed 'while supplies last' which, as any reasonably intelligent person would deduce, could very well mean not lasting until dinner time, given that people generally turn out in droves for anything free.

    My wife and I went to Dengeos in Skokie before lunch time and enjoyed our free gyros (and other items we purchased). Five other people I know went there long after the lunch rush and were able to get free gyros (though they had to wait about 30 minutes). Sorry that you and some others were too late to be able to take advantage of a great offer.

  2. It seems that the unemployed were capable of taking advantage of the offer, while those with jobs who customarily would be tied up until 5pm were not. So it looks like the gyros promotion created all kinds of good will amongst the idlers and deadbeats while pissing of those who can actually afford to pay for the product. Some brilliant promotion, huh?

  3. It is exciting about the offers,Discount
    . There are tons of coupons out there and I believe that you wont find every single one on a single site. does it simple.


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