Chains hope to score big with Final Four activations

Marketing Bites: Wendy’s tries a Twitter-activated vending machine; Pizza Hut drives the Struggle Bus; Dunkin’ gets into makeup, and more marketing news of the week.
Pizza Hut Struggle Bus
Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut
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Welcome to RB’s weekly roundup of the latest developments in restaurant marketing.

Twitter can be enraging. Or hilarious. Or informative.

But this weekend at the Men’s Final Four basketball games in New Orleans, Wendy’s is leveraging Twitter to surprise and delight some fans via a Twitter-powered vending machine.

The burger chain partnered with the social media platform to create a tweet-powered vending machine that will dispense “randomized gifts and experiences” outside Caesars Superdome to fans who tweet @Wendys with select hashtags.

The chain even created the @wendysvending Twitter account for the “Official Wendy’s Vending Machine of March Madness.”

“New Orleans is my home. I give out free stuff,” the account’s bio says.

Pizza Hut is also getting in on the creative on-site activations for March Madness, with a respite for those who may be having a rough time during the NCAA games.

The pizza chain will be driving its Struggle Bus to New Orleans for the Final Four games. The bus, painted Pizza Hut’s signature red, will embark on a month-long tour after the basketball championships. It will also pop up in Athens, Ga., at the end of April to comfort college students there studying for finals.

The Struggle Bus features “lounge areas, beds for power napping, soothing videos, interactive selfie experiences and, of course, plenty of Pizza Hut pizza,” the chain said in a statement.

(Hey, Boss, can we get a napping bus for Restaurant Business HQ?)

Ready for doughnut and coffee makeup?

Makeup company E.L.F. has previously joined forces with Chipotle Mexican Grill on a line of burrito-inspired eyeshadows and spicy-red lip gloss.

Now, E.L.F. is partnering with Dunkin’ on a collection of eyeshadow, lip glosses, lip scrub and more that look and smell like the chain’s doughnuts and coffee.

Dunkin' makeup

Photo courtesy E.L.F. Cosmetics

Items include The Dunkin’ Dozen doughnut-inspired eyeshadow pallet, Donut Forget Putty Primer, Coffee Lip Scrub, Glazed for Days Lip Gloss Set, and Strawberry Frosted with Sprinkles Face Sponge.

The collections go on sale Thursday for E.L.F. rewards members and will be available at Ulta Beauty Stores starting Sunday.

Making a statement with value

With inflation at the grocery store and at virtually every restaurant, it’s a bold move for a chain to make an aggressive value play right now.

Enter Denny’s.

The casual-dining stalwart debuted an Endless Breakfast promo this week that runs through June 21 to “help Americans impacted by rising inflation” with an all-you-can-eat serving of pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs and hash browns for $6.99.

Real high rollers can add unlimited bacon or sausage to the feast for an extra 99 cents.

“As Americans are being impacted by a unique mix of current events, and gas, rent and costs for supermarket staples like eggs, milk and cheese continue to increase, Denny’s is proud to bring our guests Endless Breakfast at a time when we know each dollar matters,” Chief Brand Officer John Dillon said in a statement.

Denny’s said it tested its Endless Breakfast before the pandemic—with positive results.

“As inflation is on everyone’s minds and continues to impact Americans everywhere, we knew this was the perfect time to launch this deal,” Dillon said.


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