Gardiners Furniture owner Gary Mullaney took a chance with a Super Bowl bet of his own. According to The Baltimore Sun, if the hometown Baltimore Ravens returned a kick for a touchdown during Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, then all furniture purchased between Jan. 31 and 3 p.m. Super Bowl Sunday would be free.
And then the improbably happened. Jacoby Jones returned the second half kickoff 108-yards for a touchdown, and Gardiners Furniture, which sells online and through Baltimore-area showrooms, was on the hook for a reported $600,000 worth of free furniture.
Fortunately for Mullaney, he is no stranger to promotions such as this one. It’s the third time he’s run a traffic-driving Super Bowl promotion, and he’s had each one insured, just in case he’s had to pay out.
So the cost of the giveaway was covered by a $12,000 insurance policy. And Erik Hauser, founder of the Experiential Marketing Forum, says that $12,000 investment was a smart one for Gardiners Furniture.
“Insurance is the lynchpin of all promotions,” Hauser says. “All you’re going to get if you can’t pay out is negative press.”
Hauser says if you’re going to run a promotional giveaway, you need to fully understand the risk profile. Through the first 46 Super Bowls, just 8 kickoffs were returned for scores.
“I’ve seen this happen before with hole-in-one promotions, where the sponsor did not have proper insurance,” Hauser says. “It could seem highly improbably that it doesn’t happen, but you don’t proceed with the promotion if you don’t have every intricacy possibly covered.”
The going price of a 30-second in-game commercial could have cost Gardiners Furniture $4 million, so Hauser sys the promotion and investment were a smart move. In the week following the Super Bowl, Gardiners Furniture benefitted from tons of local and national media exposure in print, television and the Internet.
“For the consumer, it was like playing the lottery,” Hauser says. “But for Mullaney, it showed is risk appetite. He was much more of a businessman than a gambler.”