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Checking In On TCBY's Franchise Giveaway

It's a fascinating idea: a franchise giveaway.

Back in December, we blogged about TCBY’s plan to give away one franchise. Essentially, over the last six months, Americans have had a chance to make their case for why they deserved a free frozen yogurt franchise. Our reaction was as follows: great from a marketing perspective, less so from a business perspective. Giving away a franchise seemed to slightly demean the very hard work of getting a franchise off the ground. Well, seeing that the semifinalists have recently been chosen, we thought we would check in on how ‘The Great TCBY Store Giveaway’ is going.

So far, so good, actually. On the ‘Giveaway’ website, you can now watch the video applications of the ten semifinalists. You’ll find it’s a diverse group of businesspeople, broadly covering most of the country. If you provide your email address, you can even vote for the person you think is most deserving of the franchise. Also, it’s incredibly easy to share the videos on Facebook and Twitter.

And as a quick Google News check reveals, this contest has made for extremely useful content for old media as well, as a number of papers have profiled these new local celebrities.

Voters have until May 10 to vote for the video they like the best.

In terms of generating organic publicity for the company, it’s clear that the campaign has been a success. Also, and most importantly, they’ve attracted quite a polished group of contenders, between people who've inquired about opening a TCBY franchise in the past and genuine TCBY lovers.

I’m interested in how other franchisors have responded to this campaign. Seeing the pool of potential franchisees that TCBY has generated, would you take on the risks of giving away a franchise and eating a franchisee fee for this kind of grassroots marketing?

The winner will be notified on May 25.

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