Food Truck/Pop-Up Case Studies
Wendy's and Arby's have each managed successful pop-ups. In each case, these companies leveraged their unique advantages to achieve their goals. Both companies used major events to catapult their product into the spotlight. Wendy's took a more structured approach, taking advantage of the X Games to advertise their new Made-to-Crave burgers across the ESPN network, while Arby's piggybacked on a seemingly nonsensical viral sensation with surprisingly positive results.
Wendy's Ski Thru: Winter X Games Aspen 2019
- Wendy's fresh, never frozen burgers are their most well-known selling point.
- With 6,711 restaurants reported open by end of last fiscal year, the brand wields massive reach.
- They are the world’s third largest hamburger sandwich segment QSR.
- At Winter X Games Aspen 2019, Wendy's hosted a pop-up restaurant called Ski Thru for visitors to sample the new Made-to-Crave burgers.
- In addition to the food, the "mid-mountain oasis" included a green-screen experience called Pose Like a Pro for visitors to wear Wendy's snow gear and take photos.
- X Games host Jack Mitrani ran an advertisement for Ski Thru on the X Games Facebook page.
- Wendy's also backed an event for the games, the "Knuckle Huck."
- Approximately 117,000 people attend the Winter X games 2019. From that population, Wendy's achieved 29,615 on-site engagements and 10,692 samples served.
- They also reported 2.3 million organic Twitter impressions.
- As X Games are owned by ESPN, the event also enjoyed exposure on the ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC channels.
Arby's Area 51 Food Truck
- Arby's is the largest (page 8) roast beef sandwich QSR in the world.
- In 2010, they had over 3,649 restaurants.
- On September 19, 2019, Arby's sent a food truck offering both samples of the new menu items: The "E.T. Slider," "Unidentified Frying Objects," and "Galaxy Shake," to the "Storm Area 51 Basecamp."
- Merchandise including Arby's T-shirts was also available.
- On July 25, 2019, Arby's official Twitter page reported they would be at Area 51 with a special menu. They would be debuting their new menu with themed options.
- This was due to a viral event, wherein a Facebook page recommending users storm Area 51 on September 19, 2019, received considerable attention.
- This was later organized into a movement, who referred to themselves as "Stormers." Approximately 2,100,000 people reported they were "going," and 1,500,000 more reported they were "interested."
- While the event's creator pulled out after overtures from the Air Force got out of hand, online enthusiasm for the event continued. A legitimate version later dubbed "Alienstock" appeared on legal property and held an event on September 19, 2019.
- According to local news, Arby's distributed 1,500 samples of the new menu to "Stormers," launching their new menu.
- The initial tweets reporting the food truck and the new menu received approximately 2,500 likes each and several hundred retweets.
In both cases, when large companies decided to use pop-ups or food trucks, it was a. to jump-start a new menu item and b. piggybacked onto a larger event. Food trucks and pop-ups, as marketing tools, are best used in conjunction with a larger movement, such as a sports event or even, as Arby's demonstrated, a viral social movement.