Popeyes, Dunkin' and Outback have food—and outfits—that social media can't stop talking about

·3 min read

With more food and restaurant chains turning to TikTok and social media to drive buzz, merchandise has developed into a powerful tool to spread awareness and reach younger consumers.

Yahoo Finance did a breakdown of some of the most offbeat fast food “fits” from companies that have embraced the viral power of social media, while also maintaining unique brand identities along the way.

Steak Wear by Outback

Outback Steakhouse (BLMN) launched a sizzling promotion last month to encourage consumers to order online.

For a limited time, guests who order pick-up delivery will have a chance to win one of 75 exclusive athleisure-style sweatsuits — from Sizzlin’ Steak Sweats to The Bloom Suit (see above!)

(Courtesy: Outback Steakhouse)
(Courtesy: Outback Steakhouse)

Popeyes’ Beignet Camo

Capitalizing on its fried chicken sandwich that exploded in popularity during 2019, and sparked the so-called “chicken sandwich wars” among the competition, Popeyes (QSR)’s last year introduced the world to “That Look from Popeye’s” — which sold merchandise that resembled crew uniforms and quickly sold out.

In December, the social media savvy company debuted an ugly Christmas sweater, around the same time it rolled out chocolate beignets. It also used the occasion to sell a line of $35 sweatshirts splattered with what resembled powdered sugar — a clever nod to its latest sugary treat.

The hoodies were appropriately dubbed the “Beignet Camo” to “camouflage the inevitable mess” that comes from eating a beignet. They were available to purchase on the fast food giant’s website at the time of the dessert launch.

(Courtesy: Popeyes)
(Courtesy: Popeyes)

Dunkin’ Onesie

Famous for its donuts and coffee, Dunkin’ recently brought back the fan favorite Onesie, along with a slew of other holiday merchandise.

(Courtesy: Dunkin')
(Courtesy: Dunkin')

The limited edition re-release came as the brand pushed for more followers on TikTok, in addition to further promotion of its holiday menu.

The product sold out within minutes — leaving some fans craving more.

Currently, Dunkin’ continues to sell a wide range of clothing items — including the first ever Dunkin’ wedding collection, which dropped exclusively on ShopDunkin.com on February 11.

Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuit “Ugly” Holiday Sweater

Red Lobster also unveiled an ugly holiday sweater, which predated Popyes, back in November 2019. The item also included an insulated pouch to keep your cheddar biscuits warm.

(Courtesy: Red Lobster)
(Courtesy: Red Lobster)

The limited-edition Cheddar Bay Biscuit “Ugly” Holiday Sweater retailed for $39.99 — and was immediately met by quite the intense fan reaction on Twitter.

Gimmick or sales boost?

Although some still argue that these marketing tools are more gimmick than genius, social media impressions can often lead to meaningful sales boosts.

During 2019’s chicken sandwich wars, Popeyes’ same-store sales surged as users flocked to get a taste of the sandwich innovation. That success all stemmed from a Twitter battle between the New Orleans-style eatery and top competitors Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s (WEN).

Beyond that, fast food chains have leaned on other viral marketing strategies — from Mario Lopez as KFC's Colonel Sanders (YUM) to Quarter Pounder scented candles from McDonald’s (MCD).

In case you were wondering, the candles quickly sold out.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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