Why Honoring a 100-Year-Old Coupon is Marketing Genius

Marketing Genius

Have you ever thought about the expiration dates on coupons? Are they really necessary? It’s not like someone is going to save a coupon and use it years later right…



Actually, a McConnell Marketing associate’s Grandmother was recently featured on General Mills’ blog by taking advantage of a coupon that was more than a few years past its intended use!


The Story

In 1984 Laurine Williams found an interesting piece of her mother’s old book collection, an original 1910 Gold Medal Flour Cookbook. On the last page of the book was a coupon for another free copy of the book, presumably so you could share with a friend. Williams wrote a letter to General Mills asking if she could redeem the coupon pointing out that it had no expiration date. Unfortunately, Williams didn’t send the letter immediately and it ended up lost.

Fast forward to 2012. Williams rediscovered her old letter and decided to send it in; at this point the offer for a free copy of the cookbook was over 100 years old! General Mills honored their original offer and sent Laurine a reprinted edition of the 1910 book. The company had actually begun reprinting the book because of situations like Laurine’s.

There is one significant change to the reprinted version of the book however, the word VOID is very clearly marked over the coupons in the back!


Old Coupons and Brand Equity

From a marketing perspective, the way General Mills handled this scenario is interesting.

They could have easily brushed the whole situation under the rug and no one, besides William’s would have noticed. Even then it’s hard to imagine that she would have been too upset with the company for not honoring a century’s old offer.

Really this story isn’t about General Mills honoring a coupon. It’s about the company going the extra-mile for a customer.

By putting in the time and effort to make sure that situations like Williams’ were handled appropriately, General Mills showed that they cared, something that can go a long way for a brand. Establishing trust with a customer base takes a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it. Which is why General Mills did what they did.


Word Travels Fast 

Laurine Williams is likely to be a loyal General Mills customer as a result of what happened, but in today’s world of social media and viral information spread she’s not the only one who will have a changed opinion of the brand.

General Mills didn’t just gain one loyal customer; they likely increased trust and brand equity with everyone reading this story!

The takeaway from this for businesses shouldn’t be, “Hmmm that’s a quirky thing that company did”. It should be how can we go the extra mile for a customer, How can we gain trust through care! What is our 100-year-old coupon!?

So think about it. Has a company honored a 100-year-old coupon for you? Has your company done something unexpected for a customer?

Give us your examples in the comments below!


What Does the Future of Hotel Technology Look Like?

hospitality tech

Apple’s big announcement this week put us in a technologically minded mood here at McConnell Marketing. Unfortunately, as fun as they are, the newest iPhones weren’t quite hospitality relevant enough to justify a blog-post. However, the latest advancements in cell-phone technology did make us wonder what technological changes will take place in the hospitality industry in the future. Here are some of our predictions for the future of hotel tech!


Wi-Fi is going to become freely available in all hotels! Hotel Chatter has put out a hotel Wi-Fi report since 2004, and this year 64% of hotels offered free Wi-Fi!  Ironically, it’s the higher-end luxury hotels that are still holding on to the concept of charging a premium for internet access. It’s okay though, because the trend is definitely moving in the direction of free for everyone. Soon enough hotel Wi-Fi will be treated like having running water, electricity, and television in a room.


This is a pretty easy prediction. Apps are becoming common for everything whether they make sense or not. We know that at least the Marriot and St. Regis have already jumped on the app bandwagon, and many more brands are sure to follow. St. Regis has gone with an e-butler app, which fits nicely with their branding strategy while Marriot has been a bit bolder by creating a mobile gaming app.


Complimentary Netflix is coming! The television industry is changing and the on-demand video streaming service Netflix has drastically changed the way people consume media. Hotel  Management wrote about this trend last December, and Netflix has only grown in popularity since then. Obviously down the rode Netflix won’t be the only service of this kind, but the general idea of on-demand watching of your favorite shows will continue to grow in popularity.


This concept video by Corning in 2011 makes the future look… Awesome! How cool would it be to have a touch screen display built into your hotel windows and mirrors? Thought it’s certainly technology that won’t be available for at least 15 or 20 years, the advent of tablet computing and multi-touch smart-phone screens make this idea seem a lot closer and realistic.

Easier Charging

When is the adapter for the outlet going to go away? Some coffee shops and other places where people gather have started putting built in USB wall chargers next to, or replacing, their outlets. It’s a difficult proposition for a Hotel since there are quite a few outlets to change, not to mention the fact that the standard for device charging chords keeps changing. Maybe conductive charging will solve the problem. Either way, it seems to make sense for hotels to adapt and provide people with a less clunky charging experience for their devices.

Social Media Specific to Travel

One of the more interesting potential directions social media could take is  specialization and niche sites. This already exists to some extent but how specialized will things get? Will sites like TripAdvisor , or Expedia become more socially integrated? Will travellerspoint type-sites become more popular? Social media can be really tough to predict, but travel exclusive social networking sites are something to keep an eye out for.

Smart Wake-Up

Though most travelers still use a wakeup call, or their phone as an alarm. What if hotels provided a more natural wake-up experience?Imagine that at your specified wakeup time your hotel room gradually turned up the lights in your room, or adjusted the temperature while providing the gentle sound of birds chirping.  It may sound futuristic but alarm clocks based around this type of concept already exist!  Taking the concept of a more natural wakeup to an entire room level would be an amenity guests could really appreciate!

Which of these predictions do you think is most likely to come to fruition? Give us your feedback in the comments below!

Hotels with Unique Extras


Hotels with unique extras


Trip Advisor recently posted a list of 10 hotels with unusual extras. It’s a little reminiscent of our “4 Hotel Amenities Done Right” post. Though some of these extras seem a little outlandish and unnecessary, it’s exciting to know that these types of creative additions exist. We picked out three from the list that we thought were extra unusual.


Giraffe Manor Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffe Manor is a hotel located in Nairobi. This hotel’s primary extra is the fact that giraffes roam around the property, interact with guests, and even stick their heads inside the hotel from time to time. Unsurprisngly, the guest reviews are fantastic. It sounds like a genuinely well-established hotel, that also happens to have giraffes, not the other way around.

Surprisingly, Giraffe Manor is only the #2 ranked specialty-lodging choice in Nairobi!


Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s nickname is the Land of a Thousand Smiles. Dhara Dhevi’s unique extra is that guests get to plant rice and learn to cook Thai cuisine. Though these might not sound like smile inducing activities, just being outside in that country is enough to make you smile!

A major part of traveling is experiencing  local culture and customs and making memories. Hanging out inside of a hotel room isn’t exactly a memorable experience, but getting your hands dirty (literally in the case of rice planting) with the locals is something guests will remember for the rest of their lives.


Cannery Pier Hotel Astoria, Oregon

Our first U.S. based hotel on our list makes guests feel like big shots. Guests can choose a classic car to be chauffeured to and from their restaurant of choice! Being chauffeured is an impressive amenity by itself, but supplying classic cars makes this addition special.

Staying in a high end hotel and enjoying the night life of Astoria is a great experience, but just add-in classic cars and chauffer service, and that makes for a night to remember.


Of course a unique extra by itself is never going to make or break a hotel, and plenty of guests that stay at these properties may not take advantage of them, but it’s an interesting trend that we hope continues!

Make sure to check out the rest of the 10 hotels with unusual extras list at Tripadvisor.


What’s your favorite hotel extra? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.