"Drinks are on the house!"*
"Lunch is our treat!" **
Quick-service restaurants and beverage companies alike have been botching free sample giveaways left and right lately: Dr Pepper and KFC have both managed to engender great ill-will with the ensuing rush of thirsty throats and hungry gullets tied to free-sample promotions.
So when Pizza Hut announced earlier this week that it would tie in to the opening of Warner Bros.' "Terminator Salvation" by offering a free medium pizza to anyone named "John Connor" or "Sarah Connor" on May 21, we flinched: It sounded like a generous offer. Too generous.
Cue montage: Throngs of red-faced Irish immigrants surging through Ellis Island by the millions at the turn of the 19th century.
Smash cut to: Those same untold numbers of Irish folk named "John" and "Sarah" rushing into their local Pizza Hut, overwhelming the counter staff, and worse, confusing them with toppings like "boiled potatoes" and "corned beef."
Fearing the worst for Pizza Hut, and working like the original Terminator, I plugged "Sarah Connor" into the Los Angeles WhitePages.com. But instead of having dozens of "Sarah Connor" listings I got ... just one.
Plug in "John Connor" and you get ... wait for it ... one listing. And his number is no longer in service.
In all of California there are only six Sarah Connors with listed numbers, including the aforementioned one from L.A.
Now, it might well be that if you're cursed with being "Sarah Connor" in L.A., you absolutely need an unlisted number: Otherwise, sci-fi geeks and stoners are calling you up at all hours doing "Ah-nold" impressions or uttering a terse "Saragh Connah?" and then hanging up in paroxysms of laughter.
But could it be that Pizza Hut has merely accomplished what it set out to do: Offering up a publicity-generating promotion that sounds generous but which is, in fact, not?
There's no way to tell for certain. A Pizza Hut spokesman did not return a call seeking comment about the potential size and scope of the "Terminator Salvation" promotion, nor did Sarah E. Connor of Tabor St. in Los Angeles.
(*Must redeem between 12:01:59 and 12:02:03 AM, Feb. 39th. Supplies are limited; not all franchises are participating
**Servers may crash. Counter-help reserves the right to spit in your face if they don't like the serial number of your coupon.)