Red Robin launches new ad campaign

Red Robin launches new ad campaign

GREENWOOD VILLAGE Colo. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is launching a new ad campaign that asks guests to make like the Yeti and “answer the call” for its newest limited-time offers.

In its eight-week run to promote the $5.99 Prime Chophouse Burger and the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad, Red Robin's integrated campaign will include television commercials, online shorts for video websites like Hulu and iVillage, and an online “YUMMM Builder” game. Commercials, which can be viewed here [3], are set to debut Feb. 22 and are built upon the call and response of the 430-unit chain’s tag “Red Robin ... YUMMM.”

In one spot, a mountain climber reaches the summit of a peak and calls out, “Red Robin,” to the wilderness below, only to see the elusive Yeti pop out from behind a tree and answer, “YUMMM.” In another 30-second commercial, a mother tries to comfort a fussy baby by working “Red Robin” into her lullaby, and the baby answers with an infantile “YUMMM.” In both spots, a voice-over implores viewers to “answer the call” and try one of Red Robin’s LTOs.

The short YUMMM jingle has been a fixture of every Red Robin TV and radio commercial since the launch of the chain’s branding campaign in 2007. Chief marketing officer Susan Lintonsmith called it a “modern-day Pavlovian bell” that the chain could leverage further to engage customers.

“It’s a very powerful three-second mnemonic for us,” she said. “We built off our guests’ awareness of that, but at the same time, the majority of promotional buzz is intended to be around the variety, value and quality” shown in the new offerings.

In addition to the Prime Chophouse Burger and the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad, Red Robin also will offer Chili Chili Con Queso and the Freckled Lemonade Shake through April 11. The marketing campaign will include four weeks of TV advertising on local channels in about 30 markets nationwide as well as on national cable channels like USA, Comedy Central, the Food Network and TBS.

The online shorts are thematically similar to the TV spots but showcase different scenarios for “answering the call” in a shorter format. One, for instance, shows a man pumping gas and singing “Red Robin,” thinking he’s alone, only to be answered “YUMMM” by the voice of the station attendant over the speakers on the gas pump.

The “YUMMM Builder” game is a spoof of the 1980s “Burger Time” video game, and users can win the opportunity to download a “Red Robin ... YUMMM” ringtone for achieving a high score.

The diverse elements of the campaign represent an increase in Red Robin's overall marketing spending in 2010 compared with 2009, Lintonsmith said.

“We are spending more in 2010, because we didn’t have much TV advertising in 2009 — only six weeks total,” Lintonsmith said. “But our digital spend is very consistent with the prior year. We ran a 10-market TV test last fall for two $5.99 LTOs, and given the results of that test versus what we experienced in non-TV markets, we knew we had a winning plan.”

That fall test campaign promoted the Wise Guy Burger and the Chicken Caprese Burger for $5.99 each, and the current marketing push will follow the same playbook, she added. Like the last effort, this campaign will lead with commercials for the Prime Chophouse Burger and then promote the chicken item.

In the company’s 2009 fourth-quarter earnings conference call, Red Robin chief executive Dennis Mullen credited the fall limited-time offers and the complementary test advertising in part for narrowing Red Robin’s quarterly same-store sales declines to 10.5 percent, compared with a 14.9-percent decrease in the year-earlier fourth quarter.

“The key thing is that this [campaign] is based off the success of our fall TV test,” Lintonsmith said. “The objectives are driving traffic through LTO news and providing news around value, variety and quality. The online game is just a fun component, too.”

Red Robin’s agency of record, Minneapolis-based Periscope, created the campaign.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected] [4].