Celebrities are helping restaurants get attention

Along with traditional and social media marketing, more restaurants and QSRs have begun to promote relationships with celebrities in recent years to try and tap into their fan bases and increase notoriety. This marketing trend takes sponsorship to the next level, capitalizing on as many mediums as possible to get people talking.

From Justin Bieber’s campaign with Tim Horton’s in 2022 to Taco Bell’s alliance with comedian Pete Davidson in 2023, the partnerships are wide-ranging. Dunkin’ Donuts partnered has partnered with celebrities like Charlie D’Amelio in 2020, and most recently with Ben Affleck creating commercials for the Super Bowl and beyond.

While these types of partnerships are not brand new, with McDonald’s partnering with Micheal Jodan in the 1990s, this trend is growing as a marketing strategy for restaurants. As operators strive to reach new audiences, these celebrity partnerships can help restaurants build brand recognition, attract a new demographic, and set themselves apart from the competition.

Many consumers see a celebrity partnership as an endorsement, believing that their favourite personalities stand behind the brand they are representing. This can act as a recommendation, helping restaurants build trust and loyalty with their audiences. Studies show that 85 per cent of consumers feel heightened confidence in a brand associated with a celebrity and that fans of that celebrity are 50 per cent more likely to make a purchase based on the partnership.

While these campaigns are certainly expensive, they result in large amounts of free promotion, too, as customers post about their visits and experiences online, encouraging more visits and more social media coverage throughout the campaign. “Young people become these unintentional marketers,” said Frances Fleming-Milici, director of marketing initiatives for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health at the University of Connecticut. “Companies don’t have to pay for that organic content and all the TikToks that people make.”

This may seem like a strategy that can only be employed by large franchises, but it can work on a smaller scale. Operators seeking partnerships should look to local celebrities who might be interested in helping a business that they frequent or that’s located in their community. Look for celebrities that align with your brand, reach out, and define the details of the campaign including responsibilities for the spokesperson, what they can expect in return, and the length of the partnership.

To get started, reach out to a local celebrity or a social media influencer who connects with your vision to get the conversation started. From influencer marketing to celebrity partnerships, restaurants are boosting their brands, getting attention, and broadening their consumer base as part of this evolving marketing strategy.