The Winners and Losers of Autumn's Fast Food Promotion Wars

I’ll admit it: I have a little bit of a fast food addiction. I also love Taylor Swift, Cleveland sports and giveaway-style contests, so October was one helluva a month for me at lunch time. Why? Because fast food joints like McDonald’s, Subway and Arby’s all ran promotions that got me to spend more money on their food than normal…all with the promise of earning some free branded swag.


My normal meal at Mickey D's is the McChicken meal, which only costs $3. But when Monopoly time rolled around, my go-to nosh didn't have any game pieces attached to the wrapper! What was a girl to do? Well, apparently the answer was to spend $5.40 on the 10-piece McNugget meal to maximize the odds of getting that coveted Boardwalk sticker. No, I didn't hit it big. But I did win a bunch of free french fries. So I guess it all worked out in the end, right?


I'm not normally a Subway fan (too pricey, IMO), but their partnership with my idol, Taylor Swift, made me rethink the sandwich shop. Not only did her endorsement sucker me into buying the 32-ounce collector's cup, but I also downloaded their app: Subway FreshBuzz. Why? Because every time you scanned the cup you got another entry in the contest to FREAKING MEET TAYLOR SWIFT! (Oh, and you could also take "selfies" with Taylor and get an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of her producing her newest album.) Truth be told, however, I only spent $1.80 for the pop and didn't end up eating any of their other food. Conclusion? Good promotion for general brand awareness; bad promotion for increasing sales significantly over the long run.


Again, not the biggest fan of roast beef, but when I did go to an Arby's restaurant this week I was immediately greeted with a giant banner for a Browns collector's cup…all I had to do was upgrade my drink to a size medium. Sign me up! It was a thicker plastic cup, making it reusable, so that bad boy will be going with me to upcoming tailgate parties.


I am a sucker for fast food promotions. Oh, and my vote for best promotion goes to Arby’s. Even though I didn’t “win” anything, they gave me a high-quality product for just a slight upgrade fee. On that note, GO BROWNS and cheers to our hometown hero, Brian Hoyer. (Who, by the way, promotes Mr. Hero.)