Arby’s has been connecting with gamers over the past two-and-a-half years through its social channels. In addition to targeting popular games like Overwatch and Street Fighter 5, the company went all-in with esports last year as a key sponsor for Turner and WME/IMG’s inaugural ELeague season, which focused on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
Jeff Baker, Arby’s vice president of brand content and advertising, oversees the different areas of Arby’s broadcast, social and marketing channels. He told AListDaily that the restaurant chain, which has over 3,300 locations around the country, identified gamers as having a heavy overlap with its guest base and decided to engage them through social channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“We have targeted over 100 titles,” Baker said. “That covers a wide array of mobile, console and PC games, including the classic Zelda as well as the recently released Zelda for Switch. We’ve covered everything from 8-bit games to tabletop games. And it’s done in a fun way that has created some back-and-forth with publishers like Bandai Namco.”
Baker uses static image content and some animated content to connect directly with gamers digitally.
Gyro shrines? Hardest shrines. pic.twitter.com/gylqzrq6E0
— Arby's (@Arbys) April 6, 2017
“We try to act as a fellow fan because we are,” Baker explained. “People in our office and at our agency are fans of these games and brands. We try to engage with a broad group of people. A guy in our analytics department worked on content as a fan of gaming. It’s not about using these games as a sales vehicle.”
That type of messaging, which aligns the Arby’s brand with the wide audience of gamers, also was employed for esports with ELeague.
“ELeague has been well received with fans, especially on Reddit with conversations around our brand,” Baker said. “Our strategy is to engage versus sell. We use our brand elements and create fun and lightweight stories that are about us being fans of the titles instead of us trying to sell the product. It’s been appreciated across the board with no negative commentary.”
Now Arby’s is taking its game connection in-house. Starting this month, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Citrus Cherry will be available at more than 3,000 Arby’s restaurants nationwide.
“Pepsi is our partner and they’ve established Mountain Dew as a credible brand for gamers, but Game Fuel is the focused product,” Baker said. “Game Fuel is exclusively available on tap for our restaurant, which is a great way to add a product that already has a connection with gamers.”
Oh feebee lay pic.twitter.com/w17OCoDy1P
— Arby's (@Arbys) April 3, 2017
Arby’s is alerting consumers about Game Fuel through social, which includes nearly 3 million followers on Facebook, more than 731,000 on Twitter and over 135,000 on Instagram. Most of that is targeted specifically to gaming content with titles like The Sims 4.
“Because we’ve been engaging with gamers for a few years, we wanted to offer them something special in our restaurants,” Baker said.
Esports is just part of the overall gaming conversation for Arby’s.
“Through social, we can target all genres and platforms of games and reach the right people,” Baker said. “The reality is in a newsfeed we’re part of that conversation that gamers are having.”
Arby’s doesn’t engage in a lot of direct couponing with gamers, but it does perform media mix analysis and Baker has seen a positive response to the gaming content his team has put out.
“We know from looking at the data that people who are into gaming have a high overlap with our brand,” Baker said.
In fact, gaming is the largest of the niche interests that Arby’s targets, which also include golfing and hunting.
As for Arby’s next move in the esports space, since it is no longer sponsoring ELeague, Baker said, “Esports is still TBD on where and how it grows, but every day more and more people are getting more interested in it.”