Call it snipe marketing: using a competitor’s misfortune or high-profile promotional campaign as a springboard for pushing your own brand. It can enable an underdog to compensate with cleverness for what it lacks in marketing firepower. Consider these examples from recent days.
Wayback Burgers’ poke at Five Guys
Among the visuals trending on social media this week is security camera footage of a man who hid inside a Washington, D.C.-area Five Guys Burgers and Fries until it closed. After the staff left, he grilled himself a burger and helped himself to some fountain soda, chatting all the while on his cell phone. Police say the intruder ransacked the restaurant during his two-hour stay, and has yet to be found and arrested.
The longer he remains at liberty, the better for Wayback Burgers’ food costs.
“As you may be aware, there is a gentleman who broke in and made himself a burger at another restaurant brand last month in the D.C. area and is still at large,” Wayback President John Eucalitto said in a statement released yesterday to the press. “To that gentleman, I’d like to say that we all make mistakes—from committing this illegal act to your choice of burgers. I strongly encourage you to do the right thing and turn yourself in right away.
“After you take accountability for your actions, Wayback Burgers will give you free burgers for one year. It’s not too late to turn it around based on what you did.”
Dunkin’s swipe at Starbucks
Not all coffee fans are thrilled with Starbucks’ changeover this week to a new customer loyalty program that awards frequency benefits on the basis of how much participants spend, not how often they visit. That’s how patrons will earn redeemable stars, as the chain announced to considerable pushback a few weeks ago.
Dunkin’ Donuts certainly noticed. Yesterday, in a jab at its upscale coffee rival, it announced that new enrollees in the doughnut powerhouse’s DD Perks loyalty program will get a bonus of 125 points and a free beverage if they use the code word “STARS” when registering. The offer only runs for a week, or what will likely be the first week that Starbucks fans are using that brand’s new app.
The perk was announced simultaneous with Dunkin’s rollout of a next-generation phone app.
War of wiener words
The recent fit of snipe marketing may have been ignited by several chains’ reaction to Burger King’s introduction of hot dogs. 7-Eleven drafted a Hot Dog Bill of Rights, asserting that customers had a right to decide how much chili they might want on their frank (BK’s wieners come pre-dressed, while 7-Eleven lets customers load on the garnishes).
Then Checkers/Rally’s ran ads that noted its hot dogs were priced $1.29 below what Burger King was charging. “So swing by any Checkers or Rally’s and get a wiener that will treat you like a king,” the ads teased.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.