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
— Steve Zaragoza (@stevezaragoza) February 11, 2021
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!)
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.
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) January 29, 2020
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.
Famous for its donuts and coffee, Dunkin’ recently brought back the fan favorite Onesie, along with a slew of other holiday merchandise.
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.
im so mad rn dunkin released there onesie today and it sold out the minute it was available at eastern time i cried i was waiting for it :( pic.twitter.com/EzXcRn8G4a
— Charlisdunkin (@Charlis81234328) November 23, 2020
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.
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.
Actually bought Red Lobster’s new holiday sweater with an insulated pouch to keep cheddar bay biscuits warm.
Best $50 I’ve ever spent
— Jenna Varns (@JenLynn97) November 27, 2019
Yes, those are the cheese biscuits. Because that damn sweater is perfect. Perfect, I say.
Red Lobster, you geniuses.
— Nashville Nettie (@Nettie05705192) January 10, 2020
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).
In case you were wondering, the candles quickly sold out.
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193