Restaurant chains attempted viral video success in the past quarter with a chicken comeback, dramatic series mashups and a fake Fellini film, and all three showed sizable increases in engagement with their audiences.
According to data tracked by Sprinklr, the provider of social media analytics for Nation’s Restaurant News’ Social 200 index, Burger King scored the highest engagement for a single piece of content with its video starring Subservient Chicken. But Wendy’s and Quiznos both strung together several humorous videos that comprised integrated social media campaigns. All three brands upped the production value for the campaigns, producing slick, broadcast-quality videos meant to end up on YouTube.
While sales of the items promoted in the videos or the bottom-line impact of the campaigns’ branding work cannot be calculated until the chains report second-quarter sales, Sprinklr did compile highlights of social engagement the brands drove during the period:
“Subservient Chicken Redemption”
During the measurement period, Wendy’s and Quiznos might have had the “long tail” of multiple videos adding up to engaging campaigns, but Burger King was at the head of the competition with the single-most-viewed video for “Subservient Chicken Redemption: The Other Side of the Road.”
Miami-based Burger King dusted off its Subservient Chicken character last seen in Web videos in 2004 and filmed a 4-minute mockumentary of how the chicken, who obediently does whatever anybody tells him to do, fell on hard times during his decade in exile. In one scene, he loses a cockfight to a chicken-suit-wearing Dustin Diamond — better known as Screech from “Saved by the Bell” — which no doubt contributed to the video’s viral reach.
But the second half of the video is a training montage in which Subservient Chicken gets back into fighting shape, ready to be worthy of the name Chicken Big King, which, incidentally, is the name of the sandwich Burger King advertised at the end of the video. The video was also one of the first pieces of Burger King marketing collateral to feature the brand’s new tagline, “Be Your Way.”
According to Sprinklr, Burger King’s 6.4 million YouTube views for its video far outpaced the closest runners-up from Wendy’s and Quiznos. Burger King also garnered more than twice as many social fan actions on YouTube as any competitor, with 480 comments, 5,802 up-votes and 2,769 down-votes for a total of 8,625 actions.
The next highest total of fan actions came for Wendy’s highest-performing video, which had 2,912 fan actions.
Since the late April introduction of the Subservient Chicken video, Burger King went back to posting its 15- and 30-second commercials for its King Deals value offer, but none of those videos achieved more than 6,121 views.
Sprinklr found that, over the past 30 days, Burger King’s active audience — meaning people who follow one of its social-media profiles and have recently liked, shared or commented on a piece of Burger King content — grew to 386,000, or about 2 percent of its 19.6 million fans and followers across the major social networks. That active audience generated 40.9 million earned impressions over the past 30 days, which Sprinklr said accounted for a 42.7-percent amplification of Burger King’s social-media engagement over the brand’s activity alone.
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“Part 1 of Wendy’s Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta: The Movie”
Wendy’s campaign for its Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta sandwich sought to continue its video strategy of incorporating fans’ tweets and Facebook comments, as the Dublin, Ohio-based brand had done successfully with the “Pretzel Love Songs” campaign  last year. This time, Wendy’s produced some original black-and-white video content, with dialogue in Italian meant to mimic an old “art house” detective movie, and asked fans to provide the English subtitles with their tweets or comments on Facebook.
Wendy’s released the full movie, “L’Estrella de la Toscana,” which translates to “the star of Tuscany,” in three parts throughout the month of May, and part one received 1.03 million YouTube views, as well as 65 comments. Interestingly, the video got slightly more down-votes, at 1,471, than up-votes, at 1,422.
Part two of the movie garnered another 573,253 YouTube views, and part three received 207, 919 views.
However, because the nature of Wendy’s viral video campaign was more participatory, encouraging fans to interact with the brand of Facebook and Twitter before they could see their handiwork on YouTube, the burger chain converted more of its followers to active fans, who then created more earned impressions for Wendy’s, Sprinklr found.
According to Sprinklr’s trailing-30-day overview from the Social 200, Wendy’s 541,000-person active audience accounted for about 4.7 percent of the brand’s total social-media audience of 11.5 million people. Those active participants produced 49.7 million earned impressions over the past 30 days, a 119.1-percent amplification of the engagement Wendy’s would have achieved through just its own posts.
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“Mad X-Men: Don Draper’s Future Past” and “House of Thrones”
Though it achieved slightly fewer fan actions of 1,210 comments, up-votes and down-votes, Quiznos received more YouTube views than Wendy’s most popular video for the Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta. Quiznos’ parody mash-up, “Mad X-Men: Don Draper’s Future Past” — combining the seventh season of TV’s “Mad Men” and the late-May release of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” — earned 1.65 million YouTube views.
A complementary video that received another 185,762 YouTube views was an interactive piece of content called “X-Men vs. Mad Men: Who Said It?”
The X-Men parodies followed Quiznos’ first viral-video success, “House of Thrones,” which mashed up popular TV shows “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” in late March and garnered more than 1.54 million YouTube views.
In both series, Quiznos focused almost exclusively on the humorous content and slipped in some of its food and packaging near the end of the videos. Like Burger King, Quiznos also had posted some of its TV commercials with a more straightforward pitch for a menu item to its YouTube page, but it received far less viewership. Its 15-second spot for Southern & Spicy Pulled Pork Subs  to date has received fewer than 600 YouTube views.
The months of parody-video efforts for Quiznos have resulted in decent engagement metrics close to that for Burger King, Sprinklr found. The Denver-based sandwich brand’s active audience for the past 30 days was 27,100 people, or about 1.4 percent of its total audience of approximately 2 million people — the vast majority of whom have liked the chain’s Facebook page.
That active audience produced 2.2 million earned impressions, which was a 27.7-percent amplification on the engagement from Quiznos’ brand activity alone, Sprinklr found.
Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected] .
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN