The Backpage: Awaiting the Goo Goo Goal

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 9:05pm

Winning is fun. Snacking after a win is even better.

Every Predators win means a voucher for a free Xyience energy drink. A shutout gets you a doughnut (clever, huh?) from Dunkin’ Donuts. Four goals is a Wendy’s Frosty.

And the most elusive: a goal in the last minute of the second period and everyone at Fifth & Broadway gets a free Goo Goo Cluster.

By far, the most common treat is the Wendy’s Frosty. This season the Predators have sent the fans home with the chocolaty dessert six times with six different players netting the all-important fourth home goal. Last season, including the playoffs, the Predators notched four goals or more at home 17 times with the Original Predator David Legwand — perhaps having the most acute awareness of what four goals means — leading the way with three Frosty markers. [Click here for a chart of snacks awarded so far this season.]

Only once at home this season have the Predators shut out their opponent, Oct. 29 against Anaheim.

And the fans await that first Goo Goo Goal.

The Predators’ vice president of marketing, Chris Parker, said the mechanics of the partnerships with Wendy’s, Dunkin’ and Standard Candy are actually a bit more complicated than one might think.

For one, the companies don’t insure against their losses, as is typical with sports promotions. For example, the sponsors of the nearly ubiquitous tuition field-goal kick always take out a policy on the off chance that the randomly selected student is the next Rob Bironas.

“Like any one else, [the companies] plan for a certain quantity of these things,” Parker said. “We can look back historically and take a three- or four-year average and say how many [shutouts or four-goal games] you are likely to have.”

Yes, there is number crunching. How many times will they score four? How frequently will they keep the opponent out of the net? What’s the attendance when those events happen? Surely, that’s the most fun day for the Predators’ statistical gurus.

The Goo Goo Goal is hardest to predict. It’s the first year of the promotion, but had it existed in the 2010-11 season, Nashville’s finest confection would have only been paid out once.

“Everybody talks about it. Is it ever going to happen?” Parker wonders.

What do the Predators’ snack-distributing partners get in exchange for risking their free treats? Plenty of in-game advertising, for starters. Public address announcer Paul McCann reminds game attendees periodically which treats are in play. A giant Goo Goo graces the Jumbotron screen during the crucial final minute of the second. If the Preds sit on three goals, the “We want Frosties (clap, clap, clapclapclap)!” cheer requires no prompting, the kind of organic advertising that perks Wendy’s pigtails.

More importantly, though, the companies have an easy loss leader.

“The one Dunkin’ Donuts shutout was on a Saturday,” Parker said, a happy accident since Sundays are usually a big day in the doughnut trade. “What we heard back was that same-store sales Sunday to Sunday were up 18 to 20 percent.”

Wendy’s gives a longer redemption period, so folks can hang on to their game ticket to get their gratis Frosty with lunch. Parker says Wendy’s sees a per-transaction increase of close to $2 — the Frosty’s free, but rarely do people just get dessert.

The Predators have been fortunate, in a way, because they’ve yet to score four or more goals and shut out an opponent, which, Parker said, would force fans to pick dessert or doughnut, as both Wendy’s and Dunkin’ require the fans to surrender their ticket stubs for redemption.

“At 4-0, you’d have to choose,” he said

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1 Comment on this post:

By: Moonglow1 on 1/17/12 at 11:25

Moonglow1: the Goo Goo Goal is elusive. We hope for it every game.

The only issue I have is with the Xyience energy drink as I understand it is very bad for one's health. Not that the Goo Goo Cluster is healthy, but someone at Daily's told me that the energy drinks have caused heart attacks. Perhaps it is because people drink too many of them. Not sure.