KFC, Hooters, White Castle, Dunkin’ and more offer Valentine’s Day romance

Certain marketing managers have jumped at the chance to promote their brands and grab online chatter with untraditional offerings for the holiday of love.

A bottle of champagne, chicken, chocolates and a bear-skin rug in front of a roaring fire provided inspiration for KFC’s Valentine’s Day messaging.

The fast-food chain launched a contest asking consumers to imagine idyllic settings for the romantic holiday for a chance to win a faux bearskin rug—with Colonel Sanders’ head mounted on it.

In a press release, KFC wrote:

Available exclusively by entering an online contest on Reddit, in addition to the Colonel Sanders bearskin rug, contest winners will receive two fried chicken pajama onesies, a gift card for KFC for two for a year – perfect for two $5 Fill-Ups each month – and a yearly subscription to an online streaming service providing endless date night entertainment.

“I’m no dating expert, but the only thing I can think of that’s more romantic than eating fried chicken on Valentine’s Day, is eating fried chicken on a faux bearskin rug created in the likeness of the greatest chicken salesman of all time – Colonel Sanders,” said Andrea Zahumensky, KFC U.S. CMO.

You can enter on Reddit in one of three ways. You can photoshop the image of the Colonel Sanders rug into a “humorous, outlandish or romantic digital masterpiece,” draw a “one-of-a-kind art piece” of your perfect romantic evening inspired by the rug or tansform a scene that KFC gives “into a romantic vignette.”

The contest has grabbed headlines and social media users’ attention for its wackiness. It also is a smart move to gather fan-generated content, such as:

MarketingDive.com reported:

… By encouraging fans to create their own Colonel- and fried chicken-inspired romantic artwork, KFC is hoping to deepen its connection with consumers who appreciate opportunities to express their creativity while also boosting engagement on Reddit, known for its anything-goes vibe and vast millennial audience. By hosting the contest on a popular social media platform, KFC’s campaign could see extended reach from fans sharing the user-generated content (UGC) across their social channels.

Though KFC clinched the award for weirdest brand offering, several other marketers have Valentine’s Day alternatives that highlight their products and services.

Not so traditional offerings

For consumers looking to give (or receive) gifts more unique than traditional flower bouquets or boxes of chocolates, Marks and Spencer, Chick-Fil-A, Hooters, Olive Garden and Terminix might have solutions.

United Kingdom retailer Marks and Spencer is selling romantic “love sausages”:

The Guardian provided a guide to the cholesterol-filled treat, which reads, in part:

Why is this a thing? Because it’s Valentine’s Day soon. Your partner (if you have one, no single shaming here) is probably sick of flowers and chocolate so it makes perfect sense for you to buy them what basically amounts to a giant balloon animal in meat form.

When you say “giant”? The Love Sausage weighs 460g. In real terms, it’s big enough for you to wear as a necklace. Perfect if you can’t afford diamonds.

Chick-Fil-A is promoting its menu staple with a heart-shaped offering of its own.

Insider reported:

Chocolates melt, and roses have thorns. So chicken chain Chick-fil-A is offering a meatier Valentine’s Day gift: heart-shaped trays of two tasty chicken treats. (Oh, and there’s a chocolate treat too, just because.)

Chick-Fil-A wrote in a news release:

If you’re looking for something unique for that special someone in your life, swing by a participating Chick-fil-A to pick up a 30-count Chick-fil-A Nuggets, 10-count Chick-n-Minis or 6-count Chocolate Chunk Cookies in a heart-shaped container.

Yes, that’s right. Nuggets, Cookies and Minis. In the shape of a heart. These special trays will be available at participating restaurants beginning Monday, January 21 until February 28, while supplies last. Availability varies by location, so please check with your local restaurant to confirm.

If you’re single and prefer chicken, Hooters has you covered. The chain is offering 10 free boneless wings when you buy 10, but you must rip up a picture of your ex-partner, as well:

Lovers of Olive Garden’s breadsticks can build a bouquet with printable sheets the restaurant chain provided:

Delish reported:

… [A]ll you have to do is print out one of these cheeky designs, stop by an Olive Garden, get your order (or several orders) of breadsticks, present them to your beloved, and you can say goodbye to singledom for good. You can make Valentine’s Day even more special by going all in and getting Olive Garden’s Valentine’s Day To-Go Dinner For Two, which includes soup or salad, dipping sauce (Five Cheese Marinara or Alfredo), an entree to share (Chicken Alfredo or Five Cheese Ziti al Forno), the aforementioned breadsticks, and a choice of dessert (Black Tie Mousse Cake or Tiramisu). The deal runs through Feb. 14 and is $36. You can download the full size versions of the breadstick bouquet here.

Terminix is offering chances to bite a love bug through a contest to win chocolate-covered insects:

The company’s press release read, in part:

Taking a twist on cupid’s holiday, the pest-control company will send lucky winners across the country edible, chocolate-covered Valentine’s crickets in an Instagram-ready, heart-shaped box, perfectly packaged and ready to share with that special someone on February 14.

“Terminix is hoping to add a little fun with a twist on the typical Valentine’s gift this season,” said Terminix President Matthew Stevenson. “While we normally get rid of our customers’ pests, this Valentine’s Day we’re helping customers celebrate with chocolate-covered pests instead.”

White Castle and Waffle House book reservations

Getting away from four-course dinners in upscale settings, two fast-food chains have established an alternative for Valentine’s Day dining.

Several White Castle locations are offering reservations on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, and are reportedly booking up quickly.

The Takeout reported:

… For those unfamiliar with this unusual promotion, White Castle has been at this for more than a quarter-century, doing away with the typical quick-service format and instead having hosts seat guests for table service of the typical White Castle delicacies and plenty of romantical decorations (see above). Seatings will begin at 4 p.m. on the 14th of February at select locations and continue through 9 p.m.; due to popular demand (yes, really), at a limited number of locations, the service will also be offered on the 15th. If you’re at all intrigued, get on it in a hurry, because 30,000 people—we repeat, 30,000 people—did Valentine’s Day at the Castle last year. Two Las Vegas locations have also joined the fray for the first time, so you can go get some sliders and then hit the Ferris wheel bar if you’re so inclined.

Eater reported:

“It was a great experience because it’s just so absurd,” says Ramon Guzman, who went on a double date with his wife and their friends for Valentine’s Day 2015. “Almost everyone was dressed up. It’s ridiculous, but honestly I would recommend it to anybody.” It’s a gimmick made for the social media age. Except, of course, that the tradition of spending Valentine’s Day at White Castle is a legitimate tradition for some, one that just happens to be more than a quarter-century old.

People reported:

To participate, reserve a table on OpenTable or by calling White Castle’s regional offices. Customers who can’t experience the dinner can order the Valentine’s Day experience through White Castle’s delivery partners. The first 10 delivery orders at each restaurant will also receive a custom, limited time Love Castle Crave Case.

Several Waffle House locations are also offering Valentine’s Day reservations:

The Takeout reported:

The annual event began in 2008 with a single Waffle House restaurant in John’s Creek, Georgia, whose manager rolled out the red carpet (er, white tablecloth) for Valentine’s Day diners. It’s since spread to locations in 21 states. Waffle House’s website lists participating restaurants, along with phone numbers and a name to ask for to place your reservation.

If dining here for a night of love (and possible indigestion) thrills you, see participating locations here.

Themed cards by Dunkin’ and Amtrak

Since 2010, Amtrak has given a lift to more than 7.2 million passengers during Valentine’s Day week, with nearly 76,000 riding the company’s trains on Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate, Amtrak is offering printable train-themed cards to go with its holiday sale:

Dunkin’ also jumped at the chance to share brand-related sentiments.

On Feb. 8, the chain offered the first 100 customers at each of its locations “Dunkintines,” a sheet of pink cards covered in doughnut puns. If you missed out, don’t worry: The doughnut chain has a few digital Valentine’s Day cards to print out and share:

On Feb. 9, Dunkin’ is also gave the first 100 couples that stopped by Flora Pop’s Las Vegas wedding chapel, Sure Thing, a doughnut bouquet:

What do you think of these wacky Valentine’s Day marketing offerings?


No Responses to “KFC, Hooters, White Castle, Dunkin’ and more offer Valentine’s Day romance”

    Harris Baker says:

    These ideas are brilliant!

    I love how KFC turned to Reddit for UGC. The Hooters idea is fun and lighthearted about something that some may be sensitive about.

    I know where I’m going tonight!

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