Restaurant chains are feeling festive already

Marketing Bites: Various chains launch holiday promos; Dunkin’ and Bark team up on dog toys for a cause; and chicken chains celebrate National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day in creative ways.
KFC's holiday bucket.
Starting Nov. 12, many of KFC’s bucket meals will come in “Secret Recipe of Joy” buckets. | Photo courtesy of KFC.

Marketing Bites

This year’s spooky season has barely come to an end and some restaurant chains waited no time to haul out the holiday sweaters and other gear. Also this week, Dunkin’ launches coffee-inspired dog toys with the help of Bark, and Church’s Texas Chicken wants a chicken sandwich emoji.

Here’s a look at what’s new in the world of restaurant marketing.

Holiday promotions already?

KFC recently unveiled its limited-edition holiday bucket, merch and promotions. Starting Nov. 12, many of KFC’s bucket meals will come in “Secret Recipe of Joy” buckets. In addition, KFC’s $20 Fill Up Box will come in a special limited edition holiday box. The bundle includes 12 pieces of KFC’s Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets, four pieces of chicken on the bone, Secret Recipe Fries, four biscuits and four dipping sauces.

If you’re feeling extra festive, the chicken chain also launched a new lineup of holiday-inspired merch. The collection includes sweaters, hoodies, hats, gloves and a special KFC gravy-inspired shirt.

Shake Shack also has holiday promotions in the works. The burger chain has teamed up with the Trolls Movie on a lineup of holiday shakes. The shakes are inspired by the main characters from the movie by DreamWorks Animation: Poppy, Branch (You read that right, one of the trolls’ names is in fact Branch) and Viva. The first frozen treat is Poppy’s Sugar Cookie Shake, which features cookie frozen custard, mixed with cookie dough pop candy and topped with whipped cream and cotton candy.

Branch’s creation is a Chocolate Peppermint Shake: vanilla and chocolate frozen custard, mixed with mint fudge and topped with whipped cream and mint candy. And the last shake is Viva’s Cinnamon Roll Shake, featuring cinnamon roll frozen custard, gold frosting and topped with whipped cream and gold confetti.

For any Trolls superfans in Los Angeles, Shake Shack is hosting a Trolls-themed experience at its West Hollywood location. The event will feature Trolls characters, giveaways and an interactive musical experience with tunes from the new film.

Dog toys for a cause

Bark, the makers of BarkBox a subscription service featuring toys for dogs, has once again teamed up with Dunkin’ on its dog toys for a cause. Last year, Bark came up with Dunkin’-themed toys that were a huge hit, so the concept is back again. To take home the toys, diners can donate to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. For a $13 donation, diners can score a Dunkin’ Sausage, Egg and Cheese Dog Toy and for a $15 donation diners will receive a Dunkin’ Iced Coffee Combo Dog Toy. Those two toys are available at participating Dunkin’ restaurants. Or diners can go online to to find the Dunkin’ Mocha Latte Dog Toy and Dunkin’ Super Chewer Munchkins Donut Hole treats, each available for a $15 donation.

National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day

Church’s Texas Chicken wants better chicken emoji representation. To that end, the chicken chain has launched the Chicken Emoji Project, calling for the creation of an official chicken sandwich emoji. The chain has asked diners to show their support for the project at participating locations by scanning a QR code. This timely initiative is ahead of National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day on Nov. 9.

Speaking of chicken sandwiches, Krystal is giving diners a BOGO offer on its Chik sandwiches. The offer is only valid on Nov. 9, on digital platforms.

IHOP’s ‘Fan Cakes’ video series

IHOP is featuring student-athletes in its latest marketing push. The diner chain has launched a new “Fan Cakes” video series featuring student-athletes discussing their favorite pancake stacks. The initiative was sparked after IHOP teamed up with eight college football players who visited IHOP locations and sampled an array of pancakes to choose their favorite as their Fan Cake.

Veterans Day Deals

Several chains are honoring veterans this year for Veterans Day on Nov. 13. GuacAmigos Tequila and Tacos, Kings Family Restaurant and Craft Republic are all giving veterans and active military personnel a free meal on the day of. Applebee’s is also giving away free food to veterans and active-duty military, for the 16th year. The 2023 Veterans Day menu includes an array of seven popular dishes including the Classic Bacon Cheeseburger, Chicken Tenders Platter and the Double Crunch Shrimp.

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