A "Secret" New Burger That Promotes Old-Fashioned Integrated Marketing

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“Red Robin burger touted as a hush-hush hangover cure” read the headline in a foodservice email that I subscribe to. Interesting, I thought. Although I have no intention of needing a hangover cure any time in the near future, I was intrigued by the possibility that a hamburger could somehow help cure the side effects of over-indulgence in alcohol.

The article went on to say that this so-called Cure Burger is the “very first secret menu offering launched directly by Red Robin.” Secret? Well, first, if it’s so secret, why is it being publicly announced in Entrepreneur magazine? Seems like the secret has been, well, not so well kept.

But the article explains: “That means the burger’s sales will be solely driven through media coverage, social media and word of mouth, with no mention of the Cure Burger on the menu or in advertising.” Ah. Yes. A good PR push (hence the article in the magazine, I’m guessing), and frequent plugs on Twitter and Instagram, perhaps?

A couple of things come to mind. Yes, this is just another nail in the coffin of traditional advertising: there won’t be any print ads or TV spots pleading with partygoers to visit Red Robin the next day for a certain hangover cure. In fact, it’s another vote of confidence in an integrated marketing campaign, something we’ve been preaching at VantagePoint since we started in 1993.

But this “secret offering” is also a clever way to change up the menu of a national chain without going to the expense of printing new menus, table tents, window clings, etc. And by “advertising” the secret through not-so-secret means, Red Robin gets the best of both worlds: a novel, new menu item without a lot of investment.

The days of “run an ad or two and everyone will flock to your new product” have completely gone the way of daily milkman deliveries. Integrated campaigns that can shift to suit the needs of your audience — and your budget — are what’s necessary these days. Campaigns made up of things like marketing, advertising, branding, digital and public relations components. (Which, interestingly enough, are the 5 areas of our focus at VantagePoint marketing.)

So try a secret Red Robin burger this week. Tell all your friends. Tweet about it. Just don’t expect to see an ad for it.

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