When Noel Cottrell, chief creative officer of Fitzgerald & Co., first arrived in the US from South Africa, he was surprised to discover America’s extreme culture surrounding food, especially when it came to fast food. "People talk about fast food like they talk about gourmet meals," he said.
Now, four months after his agency won creative duties for Checkers & Rally's, Cottrell is putting his observation to use with a campaign targeting fast-food enthusiasts centered on an existing hashtag, #FastFoodie.
The campaign, which launched yesterday, features three 30-second spots in which discerning, slightly hipsterish customers reflect on the quality and value of & Rally's product. In "Thrift Store," a young woman sits in her eclectically decorated living room devouring a Buttery Steak Burger. "That’s high-fashion flavor at a thrift store price," she says in a voiceover, while pulling the thrift store tag off her new leather jacket ($15).
In "Minor League," a man watches a baseball game while relaxing in the stands with the Crispy Mushroom Steak Burger. "That’s big-league flavor for a minor-league price," he says. (The third spot was not made available for preview.)
Each of the spots, which will run on national broadcast TV and online, ends with the line, "Fast foodies know the deal."
But the heart of the campaign is the social-media efforts, which will encourage followers to share their love of Checkers & Rally's using the #FastFoodie hashtag. The fast food chain is even renaming its loyalty club "The Fast Foodies," and plans to embrace the nickname on its packaging. There is also an upcoming app, said Cottrell.
The campaign is rooted in the insight that Checkers & Rally's is among the obsessions of self-described fast foodies, who also fetishize chains like In-N-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A. Cottrell described the community as eaters that "talk about the details" of the fast food world—down to the cheese that sticks to the wrapper. To better understand the subculture, Fitzgerald convened focus groups and studied YouTube food shows like the "Fry Guys."
To increase the campaign’s fast foodie cred, Fitzgerald enlisted director Chris Applebaum, the auteur behind the Paris Hilton Carl’s Jr. commercials.
Though the #Fastfoodie hashtag has been in modest use for years (often ironically), "no brand has ever latched onto" it before, said Cottrell. "It’s going to be something we have to build."
Checkers & Rally's tapped Fitzgerald, which is part of McCann Worldgroup, to replace 360i in January. The agency also counts Coca-Cola and Carrabba’s Italian Grill among its clients.