White Castle markets late nights, Chipotle plays the Celebrity Card

Marketing Bites: Chains get increasingly creative as they duke it out for traffic to lure consumers who are pulling back.
White Castle
White Castle is putting some more marketing muscle behind its late-night daypart. | Photo courtesy: White Castle.

Marketing Bites

If there’s any bright side to the recent sluggishness in restaurant traffic, it just may be that it’s forcing restaurant marketers to get even more creative in their attempts to lure cash-strapped diners.

We’ve written a novelin thesepagesrecentlyaboutvalue and the how-low-can-you-go mentality that seems to be on just about every chain’s mind when it comes to pricing.

But operators are employing some other tricks, too, to tempt diners.

Some recent notable examples:

White Castle is doubling down on its “Night Castle” marketing campaign, trying to carve out more late-night sales.

The hamburger chain this week said it was investing in hiring more employees to provide 24/7 coverage, while also ramping up the late-night deals and marketing.

Between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., members of the chain’s Craver Nation loyalty program can score a six-piece order of Chicken Rings for $2.

“A significant and growing percent of White Castle’s restaurant sales happen between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.,” the Columbus, Ohio-based chain said in a statement. “And a large portion of its delivery orders take place in the same time frame. White Castle is hoping a renewed emphasis on its late-night business will bolster those numbers even more.”

And Chipotle Mexican Grill is extending its much-buzzed about Celebrity Card to us regular folks.

Earlier this week, the burrito chain announced that common people like you and me could apply on LinkedIn for the card, which would grant the holder access to one free Chipotle meal per day per year (plus chips, side and a drink), as well as one 50-person catering order annually.

The Celebrity Card debuted in 2003, after an unnamed musician-TV star declared his love for the brand on his family’s reality show, Chipotle said. Since then, the card has become a “surprise-and-delight” offering for VIPs.

But I noticed late Wednesday the LinkedIn application link was no longer available. Did I miss my shot to finally become somebody?

Apparently not. I just need to move my pleas to TikTok, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), using the tag #CelebCardContest to make my pitch via any creative means, including photos, an original song, a video, a poem or artwork.

“After tremendous fan excitement for our Celebrity Card program, we have moved submissions to social media to increase accessibility for applicants,” a Chipotle spokesperson told me via email, after I asked about the now-dead LinkedIn link. “We are no longer accepting applications via LinkedIn. The applications that were submitted on June 24th on LinkedIn are eligible entries.”

Entries are due by July 3, with winners notified on July 12.

If this marketing column goes dark next month, please know that I’ve quit my job to live that Chipotle celebrity lifestyle.

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