Now obviously, the point of this promotion is for you to bring your family, or you'll see something else on the menu and even though you'll get one free breakfast, Denny's will still be able to sell you other things. I believe the marketing term is "loss-leader" when a store will take a small loss, but gain it all back when you purchase other things. This is the logic behind sales and coupons. Perhaps the promotion has been to make you so enamored with the Grand Slam that you'll keep coming back even if you have to pay full price. I, however, have been on to their games and never purchased anything besides the required drink. I'm beating the system! (or am I?)
It turns out, my $2 drink (or 2$ as the kids are saying on Twitter these days) actually only costs Denny's about 7 cents to make. I'm proud of myself for saving $6.59 on a free Grand Slam, but meanwhile they're making 2900% profit from me on my Coke. Even if I get it refilled a few times, they still are making around 1000% profit. It makes me wonder...who's actually winning in this exchange?
While this story is neither unique nor terribly interesting, it's an interesting way to look at the world. In truth, everything that goes on is an argument, or perhaps a competition. People have a limited amount of time, money, and attention, while simultaneously vying for the time, money, and attention of others. Due the scarity, it becomes important to mind your resources, while also trying to attract the most from others. Sometimes it's an easy exchange, but other times its far more subtle. Think of all the interactions you have going on just in your life today. Who's ahead? You might think you're winning easily, but you might be surprised if you do the math.