Trendwire, June 9, 2009

Trendwire, June 9, 2009


Trendwire, June 9, 2009

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The Food Channel Trendwire
June, 2009 • Volume 23, Number 4 •

Restaurants and Food Companies Continue to Get Creative Online

Food companies (restaurants and retail products alike) are connecting with customers through popular social-media sites such as Facebook and niche blogs such as Boing Boing. In some cases, the food companies are working with the websites to create funny ads in disguise, but in others the websites aren’t laughing.

Earlier this year snack-food giant Frito Lay ( worked loosely with the editors at the techy art blog Boing Boing (, who satirically reinterpreted its Cheetos brand. In the long lost (and, um, fictional) Soviet Republic of Unterzoegersdorf, government agents receive via parachute a drop shipment of Cheetos. Unterzoegerdorf scientists perform a series of scientific experiments on the mysterious contents to determine what it is, if it’s safe and so on. The video series takes the form of “a security bulletin produced 50 years ago in the future by the citizens of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, regarding the detection of a package containing mysterious, orange, cheesy particles presumed to be American in origin.” Check out the first in a series of six videos at

Burger King ( made its latest in a series of edgy online moves with its Whopper Sacrifice promotion on Facebook. With the help of agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (, Burger King developed an application that gave users a free Whopper sandwich if they agreed to drop 10 friends. Each sacrificed friend received a scathing message that let them know they’d been dropped in favor of a free burger. In the few days the application was live, more than 233,000 friends were dropped. Facebook objects to any application that alerts people that they’ve been dropped, so after discussions, Burger King agreed to shut down the application.

While the application no longer lives on Facebook, anyone still interested in dissing their friends can send an angry-whopper-gram via email through the website, Here, users can customize an email that features an exasperated, ranting animated Whopper Sandwich berating the selected target. You can use the Whopper to let your frenemies know that their voice is grating, their breath is bad, they have a crazy boyfriend, or that they forgot your birthday. These insults and many more are stored in the database, just waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting victim.

Restaurants are also using the microblogging site ( to stay in constant contact with their followers. Some use it for alerting people about specials, and others use it as a general communication tool. In early April, Popeyes Chicken (Twitter user name PopeyesChicken</a>) let its followers know that despite the tornado that touched down near its Nashville, Tenn., store, it sustained minor damage and all employees were OK. Hardees (<a href="">hardees) uses the site to remind users of things going on at its website (such as its Burger Arcade game), to direct people to its commercials on YouTube, or to launch Twitter-only contests like this one:

Twitter challenge: 1st person @Cards Home Opener 2 get full back airbrush tattoo of Hardee’s logo and twitpic it – $50 Hardee’s Gift Card

Most of the restaurant chains also use their Twitter profiles as another gateway to resolving customer service problems. In one recent exchange, a Hardees customer complained via a tweet (a tweet is a 140-character-maximum message on Twitter) about her fries during a visit, then received an apology and the direct number to the customer care line.

Developers of iPhone applications are also looking to cash in on online food and beverage dollars by creating a range of applications to make it easier for you to find and order your favorites. While the applications aren’t formally affiliated with the companies, many people are giving them a try —$0.99—$2.99 at a time. In particular, Starbucks lovers have a few applications to choose from:

  • sBux card from ourLivz helps you keep track of your gift card balance.
  • My Starbucks ® Pro Edition by SnowStorm Software lets you save your favorite orders (and those of your friends) with an interface reminiscent of the side of a Starbucks cup. When you’re done, simply show the order to the Barista at your local shop.
  • Starbux Locator from 648 Group lets you find the nearest Starbucks location, complete with directions.
  • BuxMe from zuLabs lets you locate Starbucks locations internationally using the built-in GPS in the phone.

The Food Channel also publishes a great consumer newsletter, called FoodWire®. To receive a copy, please register your email address at

©2008-2009 Food Channel, LLC. All rights reserved.



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