February 17, 2021

Restaurants home in on homebound customers

December’s Fresh Brothers dinner and a movie promo included a chance to win a Blu-ray edition to give away.

Whether tastes run to the Great British Baking Show, bingeing five seasons of The Wire, or a few hours on Fortnite, customers are spending more time in front of home screens.

The National Restaurant Association’s recently released 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry reports that 77% of adult consumers are more likely to stay home and watch TV and videos than they were prior to the coronavirus. That percentage rises to 84% for Gen Z adults and 79% for both millennials and Gen Xers.

Restaurant companies are quickly identifying clever ways to capture off-premises spends by pairing meals with entertainment tie-ins.

According to, there are more than 2.5 billion video gamers around the world with a diverse fan base.  In 2019, Forbes reported that on average, gamers are playing for 7 hours and 7 minutes each week, up 20% from the year before and that’s before the pandemic forced most of the population home.

Fueling gamers

Betting that gamers are hungry for meals and snacks that can be delivered right to their door to fuel their gaming energy, Wendy's and Uber Eats teamed up to connect gaming fans with meals and prizes.

For a limited time last December, fans could order signature Wendy's meals, favorites of five of the biggest Twitch streamers (gamers on live streaming platforms)—TFUE, FLIGHT, itsHafu, xChocoBars and Myth—from Wendy's Never Stop Gaming menu. The menu was available only on Uber Eats.

For every Uber Eats meal ordered from the Wendy's Never Stop Gaming menu, customers received an Uber Eats Prize Pass for the chance to win Uber Eats gift cards, gaming hoodies and slides, and entered a drawing for a next-gen gaming console.

Meal combinations included:

  • TFUE Meal: 10-piece Crispy Chicken Nuggets, Small Fries, Minute Maid Light Lemonade 
  • FLIGHT Meal: 10-piece Spicy Chicken Nuggets, Small Fries, Hi-C Fruit Punch 
  • itsHafu Meal: Baconator, Small Fries, Sprite
  • xChocoBars Meal: Big Bacon Classic, Small Fries, Diet Coke 
  • Myth Meal: Classic Chicken Sandwich, Small Fries, Coke

Gaming was an untapped space for restaurant companies. Wendy’s is the first major U.S. restaurant company to offer a gaming-themed menu. As gaming and off-premises foodservice increase in popularity, this kind of promotion is a unique way to reach and resonate with new and existing customers, either with classic menu items or specially designed items themed to tie in with the video game or famous gamer.

Dinner and a movie

Streaming-service aficionados are the lucky targets for 21-unit Fresh Brothers’ dinner and a movie promotions, which began in 2020 during the height of the pandemic shutdowns.

The Los Angeles-based operator connected with Universal, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. studios for six promotions last year and plans more for 2021.

For the promotions, customers would receive a meal discount and a QR-code-imprinted pizza box or meal package, which, when scanned, connects them to a streaming site.

There they could purchase to own (for anywhere from $4.99 to $7.99 depending on the movie and studio) such films as the Twilight and Hunger Games series, Caddyshack (a Father’s Day promo), Jumanji, and at Christmas, The Grinch, in the form of the Grinchmas Edition (Blu-ray and Digital download).

The company promotes the campaign heavily through social and sprinkles in occasional contests to further engage customers.

“For example, if you were one of the first 10 customers to pick up your order at each location, you would receive an enhanced Blu-ray version to keep or share,” says Corry Reid, vice president of Marketing.

This year, the 50th anniversary of Warner Bros.’ Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will headline the Fresh Brothers’ summer promo, complete with golden tickets to prizes for lucky customers. “These dinner-and-a-movie tie-ins have been a great way for our brand to generate buzz with ‘news to share,’” she adds.