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7-Eleven leverages lead-up to presidential election as sales tool

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is capitalizing on the upcoming election by sponsoring satirical news outlet The Onion’s digital coverage and inviting customers to show support for their candidate by purchasing specially marked presidential cups in-store and sharing them on social media.

Seven-Eleven is engaging in a veritable mobile blitz when it comes to inserting itself into conversations surrounding the upcoming election, opting to roll out a presidential coffee cup poll in its stores. Starting next week, political enthusiasts will be able to track the poll’s results on a mobile-optimized site, as well as interact with 7-Eleven’s #7Election hashtag and view satirical content on The Onion’s mobile and desktop sites.

“The presidential coffee cup poll will help drive sales for 7-Eleven in a similar way as other marketing tie-ins to large events such as the Olympics, football or the Academy Awards,” said Andrew Ribner, research director at Fluent. “The presidential election is still one of the few national events that nearly the entire American population is invested in, despite controversies surrounding Mr. Trump dampening corporate interest in it.

“A user’s investment in the decision to support the red team or blue team, or neither in the case of the purple Speak Up cup, connects 7-Eleven in a small way to the issues Americans care about.”

Political party on mobile
Seven-Eleven’s fifth quadrennial presidential coffee cup poll has officially kicked off in stores. Customers are invited to visit their local 7-Eleven and show support for their preferred candidate by buying coffee in a specially marked cup.

Individuals can purchase a blue Democratic cup, red Republican cup or nonpartisan Speak Up purple cup. The coffee cup poll will run through Election Day, which falls on November 8 this year.

The Speak Up cup invites coffee drinkers to write in their most important causes this election season and share them on social media via the #7Election hashtag. Consumers can also write in their preferred presidential candidate on the back of the cup.

This social activation will likely spur more beverage sales for 7-Eleven, particularly among consumers who consider themselves passionate about politics.

The election-themed cups will be tabulated at checkout. Beginning on September 6, consumers can view major cities’ and states’ results on a mobile-optimized site,

The results will be refreshed daily. Poll tallies will indicate the percentage of each cup sold to date.

Presently, the microsite enables visitors to view Tweets and Instagram posts including the #7Election hashtag.

The site may also help incite sales if the presidential coffee cup poll results are close.

“The 2016 U.S. presidential election will undoubtedly be the most polarizing one in possibly American history,” said Ross Andrew, CEO and chairman of Maropost. “The unique approaches and platforms of the Democratic and Republican candidates, and their supporting parties, have appealed to what may be the largest base of voters that we’ve seen.

“It’s smart business for 7-Eleven to capitalize on these impassioned campaigns, on both sides. The company can now position its cups to be used as statements, similar to what bumper stickers and campaign pins have in the past, helping boost awareness and in turn boosting sales.”

In previous years, the convenience chain’s presidential coffee cup poll saw six million votes – or cups – cast, with the final results mirroring those seen in the real election.

Additionally, 7-Eleven is hoping to fuel more sales by slating its free coffee week for October 3 through 9, enabling 7Rewards members to receive a complimentary any-size cup of coffee during that time period.

Consumers must download the 7-Eleven mobile application to leverage this offer.

Stirring up satirical news
Seven-Eleven is once again joining forces with The Onion by sponsoring the satirical news outlet’s special election coverage, which will also showcase a link to the coffee cup poll’s interactive results map.

Several of the mobile-optimized pieces of content will include articles such as, “How to Handle Your Candidate’s Defeat” and “Ways to Diffuse Tension during a Political Conversation.”

A slew of other major marketers have also tapped The Onion’s millennial reach and humorous tone for branded content.

Home appliance brand Maytag recently enlisted The Onion’s help for a series of social media posts in support of its campaign to clean up political trash talk from news feeds, blending humor, usefulness and creativity to stand out (see story).

Additionally, premium milk brand Fairlife tapped into The Onion’s satirical comedic theme in an attempt to market directly to teens for a soon-to-be-launched chocolate milk brand with a social media-fueled video campaign that urges viewers to do nothing (see story).

By enlisting mobile for a starring role in its election-themed campaign, 7-Eleven is well-poised to connect with younger demographics and insert itself into culturally relevant conversations.

“Working with The Onion certainly won’t hurt the 7-Eleven brand,” Mr. Andrew said. “The partnership will help identify the latter as a source to bring in a few laughs for what has been an intense, and at times tumultuous, election.

“This can be done similar to how Bud Light used Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer in its ‘Bud Light Party’ advertisements,” he said. “Seven-Eleven can create awareness of its brand with The Onion and people will associate it as the company making good, and somewhat insightful, digs at the election.”