3 years of 21 Viral Restaurant Marketing Campaigns

3 years of 21 Viral Restaurant Marketing Campaigns

Last 3 years have been a roller-coaster ride for restaurants. While some of them were busy getting acquainted with the digital space, a couple of them tried their hands at producing viral content. Let’s take a look at these viral campaigns. 

Viral restaurant campaigns in 2012

Domino’s: Domino’s UK conducted a viral Twitter campaign to increase their sales and to bring their customers’ attention back. The campaign was called “Tweet for Cheap Pizza”, where the participants had to tweet with #letsdolunch.  The campaign was about – Domino’s reducing the price of their star pizza, “large pepperoni pizza” in sync with the number of people tweeting during the lunch hour.   

Believe it or not, the pizzas worth £15.99 were sold out at £7.74.  Dunkin’ Donuts: The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) wanted to target young adults for their Boston location via text messaging. The idea of the campaign was to get more and more text messages from their existing as well as new customers.  So they ran mobile internet ads and radio ads to encourage people to opt-in.   

 At the end of the promotion, 7,500 consumers opted in and 17% of them forwarded the text message to a friend, which led to 21% increased in-store traffic.  Starbucks: StarBucks collaborated with RED Aids organization to raise awareness on HIV. They chose FourSquare as the platform for the Rush to Zero campaign. StarBucks donated $1 for each Foursquare check-in at any USA and Canada store throughout the first 10 days of June in 2012.  

 They earned an ROI of approximately $18000 from the campaign. Having scored such a great buzz, Angelo and Maxie’s decided to continue the campaign for another 30 days.  Papa John’s: A U.K Papa John’s Pizza franchise ran a three-week campaign, targeting the mobile numbers of their customers. They sent discount coupons on their pizzas as text messages to their 8,100 customers, which they acquired from their previous SMS campaigns.  

 At the end of the three-week duration, the store increased their sales by 33% with a 3.9% redemption rate. 

Viral restaurant campaigns in 2013:

Wendy’s: The campaign was called “Pretzel Love Songs”, where the Wendy’s lovers were asked to tweet their thoughts on the new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger with #pretzellovestories. Not only that the hashtag went viral on Twitter, but the tweets were collated in five love songs. Take a look at one of them, sung by Nick Lachey.    https://www.youtube.com/embed/y7t1OY-tp-k If you notice carefully, these songs were nothing but an accumulation of the tweets. It’s a great example of generating user-generated content and crowd-sourcing. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Chipotle Mexican Grill launched an iOS game with a social message. As a part of the “Food With Integrity” campaign, the fast-food chain created a short film “Scarecrow” to increase consumer awareness on artificial growth hormones, animal confinement and harmful pesticides. https://www.youtube.com/embed/lUtnas5ScSE The YouTube video has racked up more than 13 million views so far. And the game was downloaded 5,00,000 times in the first one and a half month.  16Handles: The New York based yogurt restaurant chain rode on their huge fan following on Snapchat. They created a viral SnapChat campaign to promote their coupons.  The visitors needed to take selfies at any of 16Handles locations and send it back to the brand. 16Handles then sent a coupon for 16% to 100% discount to the sender, which he had to redeem in 10 seconds, else it would expire.  

 This one is a great example of creating a sense of emergency on social media. Within a few days of the campaign, 16Handles received more than 1,400 snaps along with hundreds of new fans.   Domino’s: It feels nice when your favorite brand lets you create your own food profile. Domino’s tapped this opportunity with their Personalized Pizza Profiles to let their users enjoy customized online ordering through an app.  They asked their customers to create personalized Pizza Profile, consisting of their favorite items, to save time and energy. The catch was, the customers had to submit their contact information to create their profiles.  

 This campaign got immediate fame on the digital space. The USP was, anyone can order their pizzas in just 30 seconds or less. They got hundreds of new customers, who were apparently too busy to choose from the wide range of pizzas. Besides that the pizza company boosted their customer database in no time. Starbucks: It’s the famous “Tweet-a-Coffee” campaign by Starbucks. This campaign helped users send a $5 gift card to a friend by connecting with Starbucks profile on Twitter. The users had to link their credit cards to Starbucks and send a tweet to @tweetacoffee while tagging the friend. 

 The campaign drew more than $180,000 purchases, in addition to generating a huge buzz on the platform.  Auntie Anne’s: In order to market their new product, Honey Whole Grain Pretzel, Auntie Anne’s created a mobile game as well as organized “taste tests” at different physical locations. The motto was to draw maximum attention to the product through mobile devices along with driving new customers to the stores.  

Simultaneously ran on Facebook and Twitter, the campaign drew over 2,00,000 registrants, among which 30% of all registrations came from the mobile web.  Chipotle Mexican Grill: Chipotle figured out a unique way to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a “Mistake Campaign”. They sent out random tweets to create an impression that the Twitter account was hacked. It was a perfect backdrop for “Adventurito”, in which the customers could get free burritos for 20 years by solving 20 puzzles! 

The campaign was a huge success in adding 4,000 followers on that particular day. The tweets were RTed more than 12,000 times.  Carl’s Junior: In order to increase sales, this fast-food restaurant chain conducted an SMS marketing. They sent text messages to their customers to let them know about the reduced price of burger combo to $2.99 from $6.  

The SMS campaign got 19% redemption rate. In addition to this, the fast food restaurant made $14 in new sales per $1, spent on the campaign for 1,369 locations.  

Viral restaurant campaigns in 2014

Starbucks: When Oprah and Starbucks promoted their Teavana on the occasion of Mother’s Day 2014, it seemed a normal product launch, where the hostess asked her audiences to bring their moms on the show and try the new tea line, unless the two snuggling lesbian moms caught all the attention.    https://www.youtube.com/embed/PhgTX8UuprA The ad was criticised by various sectors of society, stating that the lesbian angle was totally uncalled for. Well, as a result, the video got hugely shared on social media and eventually went viral. Sometimes controversies work like wildfire! Don’t they?  McDonald’s: The campaign was named “100% Real 2014”. As the name suggests, you might have already figured out that the campaign deals with the fresh ingredients that the brand uses to make their products.  It showed how a traditional vegetable truck travelled around the island and stopped at all the major markets to pick up high-quality produce for McDonald’s. 

Designed by TBWA\ANG in Gzira, Malta, the campaign was covered by almost every renowned blogs and websites around the world, including Huffington Post.  McDonalds: McD did it again with Sochi, when they joined hands to launch a campaign to connect athletes and fans during the Olympics. The fans could congratulate or send cheers messages to their favorite Olympian with either #CheersToSochi on Twitter. All these cheers were later displayed in the Athletes’ Village in Sochi with an intention that the athletes could view and print these cheers onto their wrist ribbons.  

 At the end of the campaign 5,500 cheers were sent among which 2.800 cheers were printed onto the athletes’ ribbons.  Taco Bell: When Taco Bell launched their breakfast range in the first quarter of 2014, they called not 1 but 25 Ronald Mcdonalds from different parts of the country!  https://www.youtube.com/embed/WML2q9c8R0o The tagline “The delicious new breakfast everyone can love, even Ronald McDonalds” says it all. The TV ads were light-hearted jabs at McDonald’s, the biggest name in the breakfast category. KFC: Restaurants often launch promotion ads when they launch a new menu. KFC did it with a love story with a twist. And there was a marketing stunt for the new product, namely fried chicken corsage. It said, “Only 100 fried chicken corsages available”. And when they were sold out quickly, they announced that another batch of 100 was in the making. And the story went on. https://www.youtube.com/embed/UJdUSxFbJbw The tagline was, “It’s original recipe. I know how much you like original recipe.” Don’t miss this funny video, which already received over 9,33,000 views on YouTube.  Qdoba: Qdoba organized a poll for their social media fans, where they’d to choose between two new flavors to win Queso Bliss Showdown. Both the flavors got more than 15,000 votes.  The USP of this contest that differentiated it from the rest is, Qdoba kept updating the results real-time throughout the contest. This effort won their fans’ hearts as well as created a sense of emergency.  

The contest went viral on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter simultaneous.  Burger King: If you are aware of Burger King’s Subservient Chicken of 2004, you would relate to this campaign easily. The fast food giant resurrected their mascot in 2014 to launch their new product, Chicken Big King. But this campaign was different from that of 2004. This time, the subservient chicken was missing and Burger King asked their visitors to look for it, apparently in the new sandwich.  

The campaign was promoted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and the users were asked to find the missing chicken with the hashtag #FindTheChicken. Additionally, pamphlets were distributed on the roads and a couple of missing ads were published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle and others. Krispy Kreme: Special occasions are always a great time for doughnut selling. But this may not be the case in India, where doughnuts are still not that famous.  Krispy Kreme understood it and tracked the right way to make a change. They targeted Father’s Day this year.  They created a Facebook app and asked their fans to enter a 15-character message for their fathers. These messages were iced on the doughnuts, which were sent to the fans. The campaign was promoted on Instagram also.