Inspire Brands Playbook

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Inspire Brands: Buffalo Wild Wings

Actions taken by Inspire Brands since 2017 to keep Buffalo Wild Wings relevant include various charitable aids, new themes in their restaurants, rewards programs, partnerships, a new website, and advertisement campaigns.


To provide the actions taken by Inspire Brands to keep Buffalo Wild Wings growing and relevant, we first looked through their press releases in their website, where we found most of the sources. We then searched for additional articles and reports that feature marketing, promotions, and other campaigns that feature Buffalo Wild Wings.



  • On April 19, as a part of their Team Up for Kids mission, more than 950 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants across the US donated 10% of total sales from that day together with 100% of all guest donations made for their annual Community Day fundraiser in support of a local area Boys & Girls Club.
  • On June 4, Buffalo Wild Wings announced two new small-format restaurants in Minneapolis metro market called B-Dubs Express. These restaurants were to serve their wings and other flavors in a faster streamlined, counter-service, and sports filled environment to their customers.
  • On June 26, Buffalo Wild Wings announced the nationwide rollout of their loyalty program called Blazin' Rewards. Customers could earn points while dining in their restaurants.
  • On October 3, as a part of their Team Up for Kids mission, Buffalo Wild Wings announced the start of their annual fundraiser to support Boys & Girls Club youth sports program nationwide.
  • On November 15, Buffalo Wild Wings launched their new website to improve ordering online. They created a more dynamic, responsive, and personalized user experience on their website so customers can also enjoy ordering food.


  • On March 13, Buffalo Wild Wings launched a series of in-restaurant and Final Four activations that was aimed at rewarding fans and enhancing their watching experience of the NCAA March Madness.
  • On April 18, as a part of their Team Up for Kids mission, more than 1,020 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants across the US donated 10% of total sales from that day together with 100% of all guest donations made for their annual Community Day fundraiser in support of a local area Boys & Girls Club.
  • On September 9, Buffalo Wild Wings announced their partnership with DraftKings for a custom game exclusive to their restaurants. They revealed their new advertising campaign called Escape to Football, and also featured a football-focused menu during the 2018 football season.
  • On September 17, Inspire Brands announced that Lyle Tick had become the new president of Buffalo Wild Wings. Lyle Tick was previously the Managing Director for Walgreens Boots Alliance beauty brands business in the Americas.
  • On October 3, as a part of their Team Up for Kids mission, Buffalo Wild Wings announced the start of their annual fundraiser to support Boys & Girls Club youth sports program nationwide.
  • On October 18, Buffalo Wild Wings debuted their new logo which featured a more distinctive design.
  • On December 17, Buffalo Wild Wings unveiled a new design in their restaurant which featured state-of-the-art entertainment system and seating. This new design was first introduced to two locations in Texas, and two more were expected to follow.


  • On January 23, Buffalo Wild Wings announced that they would give everyone in America free chicken wings if the football game on February 3 in Atlanta went to overtime.
  • On March 14, Buffalo Wild Wings rolled out custom-designed stools called Jewel Stools in a location in New York and Los Angeles. The stools featured a cooling apparatus for the men's "Jewels" as well as a beer button.
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Inspire Brands: Arby's

After its 2011 acquisition, Arby's began a refresh of its restaurant layout, brand ambassadors, taglines and menu. Arby's brand refresh was inspired by its roots to focus on meat lovers. Importantly, the brand refresh of Arby's has sought to pivot the brand towards millennials.


The research focus was identifying the changes at Arby's after its acquisition by Roark Capital in July 2011. Our research timeline was from 1 August 2011 to date. We researched marketing changes at Arby's across news sources. Given the timeline of our research, we utilized sources that were older than 48 months. Notably, 2017 stands out as a year with limited organizational changes at Arby's as Roark Capital engaged in the acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings.


  • Roark capital did not immediately change Arby's marketing campaigns after its acquisition of Arby's. It continued with the 'Good Mood Food' campaign. The campaign focus was to develop a personal brand profile by increasing employee friendliness to customers. It also included acknowledging customer names by replacing order numbers with customer names.
  • Arby's set a fall launch of its Angus sandwiches and a sweet potato snack. Additionally, Arby's relaunched its Market Fresh sandwich lineup.
  • In 2011, Arby's enhanced its social media engagement with consumers by increasing its outreach on Foursquare as well as Twitter and Facebook. In its social media forays, Arby's developed a local and personal approach that often involved reaching out to celebrities, political figures, and individuals.


  • Recognizing Arby's was poorly differentiated from its competitors, it engaged marketing company, Crispin Porter + Bogusky to re-brand it. The contracted marketing company developed a marketing campaign whose focus was to uncover the truth of Arby's fresh slicing to consumers. The ensuing marketing campaign was relayed on television, print, and digital advertising that featured a former NYC Police Detective.
  • Arby's introduced Turkey Roasters to its menus.


  • Arby's 2012 logo refresh failed to impress. It received poor reviews from 93% of respondents in a survey reviewing the logo change. In response to the outcry, Arby's relaunched the logo. The new logo was a refreshed version of the old favorite logo attracting positive public reviews.
  • In 2013, Arby's had two major product launches. It introduced a Salted Caramel Shake. In partnership with King's Hawaiian brand, Arby's restaurants refreshed the classic Roast Beef sandwich for a limited time. Arby's offered two variants: King Hawaiian Roast Beef as well as King Hawaiian Roast Beef and Swiss. The partnership also included a Hawaiian Gateway Sweepstakes for a round trip ticket to Hawaii that gave customers a chance to experience the Hawaiian culture.
  • Arby's began its first text messaging campaign to drive its 2013 menu changes.


  • Arby's ditched its "slicing up freshness" tagline for "We have the Meats." The tagline change was after a recognition that Arby's was missing out on millennial customers. At the time, Arby's had the second oldest customer base in the QSR industry.
  • In line with Arby's new tagline, the brand engaged in launching a new steak sandwich lineup. It also engaged in a national advertising campaign to promote its new menu options.
  • Arby's received a social media boost after engaging Pharrell Williams during the 2014 Grammy award ceremony. The celebrity had a hat that was a look-alike of the Arby's hat logo. Arby's tweet in response "Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs generated massive publicity. The brand utilized the opportunity to reactivate its social media engagement after realizing a sales increase.


  • Arby's refreshed its restaurant outlook by shrinking its back house by 20%. Arby's utilized the additional space to make its restaurants roomier rather than increasing seating capacity, Arby's had a new kitchen layout featuring a window for guests to see their food being made. It also added a “crow’s nest” for restaurant managers to interact with staff and customers. Arby's made its restaurant edgier to attract millennials by adding dark wood paneling as well as bright electronic menu boards.
  • Famous talk show host Jon Stewart started picking on Arby's with a slew of jokes at his talk show. Arby's CEO took it in stride and became a show guest. His easy-going nature during his appearance attracted positive publicity for the brand. Arby's utilized the opportunity to boost its brand by catering for the show's crew. It also gave a farewell video for Jon Stewart's last show that featured his selection of Arby's zingers set to the Golden Girls theme song. The video generated massive publicity by generating over 1.3 million Youtube views.



  • Arby's canceled Pepsi's soft drinks contract replacing them with Coca-Cola soft drinks. Coca-Cola Co replaced Pepsi after it had been its sole supplier for a decade. The new soft drinks supply contract would begin in 2018.


  • Arby's launched a new tagline “Arby’s. We Have The Meats … for Sandwiches,” a change from its tagline "We have the Meats." The new tagline also features comedian H. Jon Benjamin in advertisements playing as the official Head of Sandwiches. The change of Arby's tagline was to shed its roast beef only image and introduce consumers to its 17 other sandwiches.
  • After an early disastrous season for the Red Wings, Arby's changed its promotion for Red Wings games from when a player scores a hat trick to when three goals are scored in a game.
  • Arby's launched a limited offer for duck sandwiches at select 16 restaurants located in duck hunting areas. The new menu option is seared and fried plus presented in smoked cherry sauce and crispy onions.
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Inspire Brands: Sonic

The campaign to increase SONIC’s relevancy includes youth-centered advertisements, convenient, unique, and diverse meal options, as well as social media friendly campaigns and more efficient service.

Loyalty Programs

SONIC customers who are part of their program receive various benefits and rewards on their birthday. They are also informed about discounts through text messages. Additionally, the MY SONIC card offers additional rewards for those who signup. Moreover, SONIC’S has also became more convenient for users, because it now schedules their orders for them and offers to pre-pay.

Marketing Strategies

SONIC is appealing to younger audiences through the use of social media. They also join various events that are popular to millennials like Coachella, as a way to stay interesting and relevant to them. Additionally, SONIC leverages on Humor and “share-worthy” commercials as a way to relate to the younger generations.

Operational Changes

SONIC customers are now enjoying using the brand’s app because it now offers the ability for users to choose the location where they want their food to be delivered, and the time they wish to receive it. Moreover, pre-orders brought the wait time of customers to as low as 90 seconds. Additionally, the brand is now more appealing for franchisers, because the brand’s franchise options now offer the needs for all areas and sizes.

Menu Options

SONIC offers a diverse menu option to customers. Their meals, drinks, and snacks are highly customizable, and the pancake on a stick, which was removed from the menu, was now re-introduced in-line with their “fast easy to eat meals.” Additionally, their new Ice Cream Slush approves the brand’s need for creative and more diverse drink options in their menu. Furthermore, the BLADE strategy, also known as “breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner, evening” makes sure that customers are served the appropriate meal for every time of the day. Moreover, the brand offers customers’ favorite menu options such as the Fritos Chili Cheese Faves starts at 99 cents, alongside many other menu options which include burgers and pies.

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  • "As part of the registration process for the SONIC Fan Club, new members will be asked for two things which will make them eligible to receive "news and offers" on their mobile device in the form of text messages."
  • " After purchasing a My SONIC Card, the customer must register the card on the My SONIC Card website to be eligible to receive a free food award. "
  • "As part of the registration process for the SONIC Drive-In Fan Club, new members who agree to receive "Exclusive SONIC News and Promotions," will be asked for their birthdate, which will make them eligible to receive a "Special Birthday Treat.""
  • "We launched the #SquareShakes campaign, a one-of-a-kind product specifically designed for Instagram and our 200,000 followers on the popular image sharing network, during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April. The Sonic Square Shakes were served in a photogenic square container, allowing the one-of-a-kind drinks to be showcased perfectly on Instagram’s square image platform."
  • " Our beloved Two Guys — comedians Peter Grosz and T.J. Jagodowsky — joined numerous other actors and influencers in a series of campy, share-worthy online animated videos starring Sipsters, cartoonish characters painted around the actors’ mouths."
  • "Guests use the app to customize, pay, and then select which Drive-In to go and pick up their food. They can also choose the time most convenient to them. “So everything is in their hand quite literally to drive that entire process rather than having to come to a physical location,” Hudson says."
  • "This differs from the competition logistically since the typical order-ahead diner gets in line at the drive thru or walks into the restaurant, either to a dedicated pick-up area or not, or they park in a curbside area. At Sonic, the guest can pick where to go and wait less than two minutes to have their meal carried to the window."
  • "Customers can’t stop raving about SONIC’s diverse, delicious, endlessly customizable menu options. We prepare every item fresh to ensure the utmost quality, while at the same time offering a destination dining experience that gives customers the chance to grab a quick bite or gather to celebrate life’s everyday occasions."
  • "“Our Pancake on a Stick is the ultimate breakfast combination, with a pancake wrapped around a savory sausage, that’s perfect for guests on the go,” said Scott Uehlein, Vice President of Product Innovation and Development at SONIC."
  • "What’s more, the sheer diversity of our menu options means that there’s something for everyone no matter what the time of day. Whether it’s a busy white-collar worker who needs a portable breakfast before work, a construction worker looking to grab a filling lunch or a soccer mom who wants to grab her kids a frozen treat after a sports practice, America’s Drive-In is there to meet the need."
  • " We offer a variety of franchise models that work everywhere from a busy travel plaza to an all-American small town. Wherever you are, there’s likely a franchise opportunity that works for you."
  • "With at least three ways to add a warm, salty and savory crunch to any meal, the new SONIC FRITOS Chili Cheese Faves start at just $0.99*."
  • "The FRITOS Chili Pie is made with crunchy FRITOS, savory chili, topped with melty cheddar cheese. The FRITOS Chili Cheese Jr. Wrap includes the same delicious ingredients bundled up in an 8-inch flour tortilla to create a perfect bite every time. The FRITOS Chili Cheese Jr. Burger is made with FRITOS, chili and melty cheddar cheese atop a juicy 100-percent beef patty, all sandwiched between a soft bakery bun, making for one sensational burger tasting experience. Amp up a SONIC classic, by creating one more option by adding FRITOS to the Chili Cheese Coney**."