Midway Through Your Crazy Summer Promotional Window.

Quick! Team up with a famous junk food that’s not Doritos! Hurry!
OH at Taco Bell: “Quick! Team up with a famous junk food that’s not Doritos! Hurry!”

Pizza Hut hot dog crust pizza! KFC chicken crust pizza (the suspiciously Snoop-Doggy KFChizza)! Captain Crunch fried tie-ins with an eye to a marriage that captures the same magic as the Doritos + Taco Bell union.

By comparison, Arby’s brown sugar bacon seems relatively restrained.

Relatively.

So yeah. It’s summertime, which is funtime. And I’m certain everyone is still in awe of the blockbuster Locos Tacos which are now an historical achievement.

Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and just get crazy? Depends who you are.

1. PIZZA HUT

The thing I love about the hot dog pizza crust is the utter abandonment of the notion a few short months ago that Pizza Hut was preparing foodie pizzas. I don’t suppose those authentic-looking Italians would enjoy the hot dog pizza any more than “Sweet Srirachc Dynamite – Honey Sriracha sauce topped with …sweet pineapple and Peruvian cherry peppers” but at least they’d recognize it as a summertime promo gimmick that fits with the Americana history of the Hut. I think the hot dog crust, while maybe not working for Chicago pizza lovers, is at least an amusing admission that the true Pizza Hut customer is at least curious to try it. I think it’s lowbrow, and I think it fits who Pizza Hut is.

2. TACO BELL

On the other hand, the Cap’n Crunch tie-in seems like an iffy product that I wouldn’t expect from the surfing-the-zeitgeist marketing smarts we’ve come to expect from Taco Bell. It just seems like a hollow attempt to recapture the Doritos tie-in and doesn’t seem entirely thought-through somehow. I feel like I expect more from Taco Bell.

3. KFC

KFC is an overseas powerhouse, and we keep learning through the media that they’re trying all kinds of interesting stuff in other countries. I wonder if they tried this kind of excess of imagination here more often, if they’d enter into that “Marketer of the Year” space. Or maybe this kind of tongue-in-cheek assumption that Millennials even recognize The Colonel as a real person will work? Time will tell.

4. EVERYBODY ELSE IN QSR

BK brought back chicken fries again. Wendy’s is turning up the Baconator again and putting bacon on fries—though I think Arby’s brown sugar bacon might be more effectively promoted, thanks to the strength of the current campaign. And McDonald’s, still groping around to figure out how to be relevant, ties in with the Minions—somewhat ironic since, to my eyes, they stole the Minions shtick with their animated Happy Meal boxes.

5. ANYBODY IN FAST CASUAL? CASUAL DINE? ANYBODY?

Tacos at Chili’s, “hand-helds” at Applebee’s. A whole bunch of responsibility at Chipotle and Panera—summer’s here and the time is right for responsibility in the street, right? Just be glad the FBI isn’t interested in your spokesman, distracting everyone from anything else you might be saying.

The right promotion can help define a brand. Product at a price, or a “meh” promotion, doesn’t hurt, really—but it is a lost opportunity.