With less than one week until the 2016 US presidential election, Americans are being exposed to numerous campaign-related discussions and ads across media platforms. However, those discussions are not limited to the political realm; industries, including restaurants, are making the most of this historic time with their own campaigns and limited-time-offers with political tie-ins.

The National Restaurant Association launched a social media campaign in February 2016 called #RestaurantsDecide to highlight how restaurants can play a role in the presidential election. The campaign includes posts on Twitter and Facebook about restaurants candidates visit on the campaign trail, facts about restaurants’ economic contributions across communities, and stories from the people behind the restaurants themselves.

Making the election a delicious occasion, many independent and chain operators are promoting election-themed foods and beverages, with the sale of each item designed to predict the outcome of the actual election. In Denver, CO., LaMar’s Donuts created donkey and elephant-shaped donuts named Fillery Clinton and Donut J. Trump, respectively, and encouraged customers to vote with their stomachs. A similar campaign launched by Chicago’s Giordano’s Pizza offers diners deep-dish pizzas emblazoned with the face of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in Parmesan cheese that are only available on the day of each debate and Election Day. Good Stuff Eatery, a fast casual burger restaurant located  in Washington D.C. and Chicago, offers diners two burger options and tallies sales of each burger daily. The Hillary burger is topped with muenster cheese, arugula, habanero caramelized onions and balsamic ketchup, while The Trump burger features Swiss cheese, champagne mushrooms, onion straws and lemon truffle mayo.

On a national level, pizza hut7-Eleven is offering customers $1 brewed coffee in democratic blue, republican red, or non-partisan purple cups and is only available to those who download the 7-Eleven app and select one of the three cups. The company is keeping track of the number of cups sold daily at www.7Election.com and showing results at both the state and local level. Omni Hotels & Resorts are featuring a Polling for Cocktails menu with seven cocktails, including the Trump Tini and the Hilla-Rita. Each cocktail order counts as a vote in the cocktail poll, and results are updated weekly on Omni’s website. Bob Evans restaurants are encouraging guests to vote for their favorite type of sausage: patties or links. After customers vote for their favorite via Twitter or Instagram, they receive a coupon for a free order of breakfast sausage with the purchase of an entrée at Bob Evans restaurants to promote the quality and taste of the sausage at Bob Evans, whether in link or patty form.

Pizza Hut has engaged customers with a variety of email campaigns strategically sent on the same day as presidential debates. One such email sent on the date of the second debate asked customers to pick a (free) side with their pizza order: a choice of “One nation, under sauce” (boneless wings), “Change is sweet” (Hershey’s chocolate chip cookie), or “3rd party” (pasta, breadsticks, cheese sticks, drinks or a brownie).

What We Think

The amount and variety of politically-charged food and beverage promotions is large. These options not only help operators stay relevant, but they also aim to infuse a sense of fun into the presidential election. While we have yet to see if these unofficial polls will predict the election’s outcome, we do know that many of these food and beverage campaigns are ones Americans are willing to get behind.

Amanda has been a member of the Mintel reports team since May 2013. She is currently the Associate Director of Foodservice Research, responsible for overseeing all of Mintel’s foodservice offerings, as well as providing insight and competitive analysis across scheduled deliverables, and client and industry presentations. She was previously a Senior Analyst specializing in the retail food industry, and was responsible for writing monthly analysis reports across several retail food categories from gluten-free foods and salty snacks, to cereal and condiments.

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