Gannett’s ‘Deal Chicken’ Goes it Alone in Arizona

The deal a day model thrives on the power of its email list, sales channels, promotion, clever copywriting and vendor selection. Newspapers and TV stations should be especially well positioned to leverage these strengths, right? Many, in fact, are diving in to deal a day via partner relationships with Groupon and LivingSocial, or vendor relationships with the likes of Deal Current, Analog Analytics, Shoutback, Matchbin, Nimble Commerce and Offer Foundry.

Going it alone, however, is Gannett’s Republic Media, the holding company of The Arizona Republic, and 28 other media and vertical sites. Republic’s Deal Chicken has been since Sept. 1, and already has 30,000 emails and 2,268 “likes” on Facebook. It ought to be able to double its email count by the end of the year, says VP of Digital Media Mike Coleman.

The Deal Chicken motif brings with it lots of branding possibilities for social media and daily emails (and has been cleverly executed.) “The Deal Chicken Knows No End” is the tagline. Some of the Facebook posts say things like “The Deal Chicken especially likes Prix Fixe Meals.”

All the writing is done on a freelance basis by contractors, rather than by more expensive newspaper staff. Unlike some of the other deal a day sites, the writers also personally interview merchants and provide feedback when deals are completed. They also receive a cut of the revenue.

“The brand is light and fun on purpose,” adds Coleman. “And we thought it was extremely important to come up with a very memorable brand, especially in light of the many, many similar sites competing for consumer attention. We don’t think ‘’ would cut through the clutter.”

Coleman said the company looked at its deal a day options, and thought it had plenty of internal resources and didn’t need to give away 5-10 percent of its earnings to a vendor. It also didn’t need to form a partnership with a major deal a day site. In the end, vendors and/or partners will inevitably squeeze tighter, he says.

As a standalone site, Deal Chicken can also establish its own pricing, which has been ambitiously set at 50 percent of the deal price, minus 2.25 percent for processing. That’s definitely at the high end of the deal a day range, which is typically 30-50 percent. But still, it is a relative bargain compared to other local media offerings. Rapid payment is also promised: 30 percent within five days, and the remaining 70 percent within 30 days.

Ultimately, Republic’s independent position is a brave one. Other newspaper companies have settled on partners to ensure that deal a day didn’t get in the lost in the shuffle of day to day operations, or sometimes, in acknowledgment that leading deal a day companies have successfully established a local beachhead.

But Coleman says that when you get past the credit card processing, daily deals are actually among the simplest of the 30 products the company produces. Republic is also ideally poised to push every button it has to make deal a day a success, he notes.

In addition to newspaper and website promotion, Deal Chicken is being promoted for five to ten seconds on the noon news show of KPNX-TV, the local Gannett NBC affiliate. The needle moves a lot after every on-air mention, he says.

4 thoughts on “Gannett’s ‘Deal Chicken’ Goes it Alone in Arizona

  1. This is a fresh approach to what is becoming a tired concept.

    Interestingly, the information about who owns and runs the site is totally hidden.

    I suppose that Gannett wants the site to build its own identity.

    Overall, a very smart move by Gannett, and apparently well executed thus far.

  2. Newspapers everywhere are going after the Group Buying vertical… but very few are seeing real success. If any newspaper property (and leader) can get this done, it will be Mike Coleman and the Phoenix Gannett properties. Good luck. The Group Buying model completely contradicts the foundation of media companies, therefore, the real challenge here is to operate independently of the parent company… with, potentially, a cannibalistic sales strategy. It can be done… we are crushing Groupon in a midmarket, midwestern community.

  3. Dick & Scott,

    Good to see you both here…

    DealChicken looks wonderful and I especially love the quirky branding opportunity.

    ‘Very curious to know more about the role of freelancers writing the copy. Very interesting to read that they are paid as a percentage of the deal event’s success.

    Also would love to know whether or not DealChicken plans to expand into some of Gannet’s other markets. (Why wouldn’t they?)

  4. Deal Chicken has an occasional deal that is catchy. However there is a whole new concept out there. The whole “dollar per deal” concept. is spear heading the whole movement. Companies like with major funding pose a major threat to Deal Chicken and the rest of the Groupon clones.

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