They've perfected the art in the fast food segment. Sign a deal for exclusive promotional rights to a studio's next big-budget kid's movie. Next, build a huge ad campaign around it, throwing in plenty of kid-friendly marketing collateral, toys and other giveaways at the unit level. Then sit back and watch sales volume climb.
As long as you pick the right movie, it's as foolproof as a restaurant promotion can be. But will this approach work as well in the full-service segment?
We're about to find out with IHOP's tie-in campaign with “Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!” The Twentieth Century Fox animated film features the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell. The movie debuted on March 14, and 1,344-store IHOP now offers the usual restaurant/movie promotional package of TV commercials, in-restaurant materials and bonus online elements.
But it's the food that sets this effort apart. For operational reasons, fast food feeders typically stick with their standard menu items no matter what the movie promotion might be. But a full-service operation like IHOP, where every meal is prepared to order, has the option to be more flexible with its offerings.
Which IHOP did by coming up with four new Horton-themed offerings: Who Cakes, pancakes topped with two colorful glazes, chocolate chips and a pink lollipop; the Mayor's Breakfast — green eggs (scrambled with spinach) and ham; Jo-jo's Kids' Breakfast, a short stack of Who-Cakes, a scrambled green egg and a ham strip; and, Beezlenut Splash, lemon-lime soda with cubes of floating cherry and blueberry Jell-O.
Will this promotion boost sales as IHOP hopes? If it does, it could open the door to similar pop culture tie-ins by other full-service chains.