Lexus made a sriracha-themed car last month. A couple of years ago, Pizza Hut tried baking the spicy sauce into pizza crust. Now Wendy's is the latest brand cashing in on the sriracha craze, and it has a kooky marketing campaign to match.
Today, the Dublin, Ohio-based chain and VML are launching a new TV and digital campaign promoting sricha-flavored fries and a chicken sandwich that has sriracha-infused cheese, a flavored bun and an aioli sauce that target "hardcore" fans of the spicy sauce.
"When you see someone walking around with a keychain that has a bottle of sriracha on it, it's a pretty big indicator that this thing is significant—it's not one of those things like ketchup that's ubiquitous but it's also not one of those things that no one's heard of," said Brandon Rhoten, vp of advertising, media and digital at Wendy's. "It's kind of mainstream, but hardcore mainstream."
For the first three days of the campaign, the word 'sriracha' is taking over Wendy's website and social channels with content about the sauce. On Facebook and Twitter, posts simply read 'sriracha' and community managers are instructed to respond to questions about the spicy stuff.
There's also a couple of TV spots that show different types of fans who are surrounded by sriracha-themed props like pillows, bedspreads and posters. For fans who want to get their hands on the stuff featured in the commercial, try tweeting at Wendy's and see what happens.
"It's the kind of people who would get a tattoo, the kind of people who would outfit their entire bedroom, the kind of people who would paint themselves up in celebration," Rhoten explained. "We're not trying to find somebody who has tried it and didn't like it."
After the first few days of the campaign, a series of Will it Blend-style of digital videos dubbed, "The theory of sriracha in everything," will run on online video networks and Wendy's social channels.
In one video, two scientists try to make a watermelon explode (a la BuzzFeed) by pouring hot sriracha into it. In another clip, the scientists create a paper mache volcano that explodes with a combination of baking soda, vinegar and sriracha.
"If you are a sriracha aficionado, you're going to try just about anything," Rhoten said. "If you're into this ingredient, you're going to be curious about what else you can do with it."
Wendy's is also working with BuzzFeed to create and run ads across all of the viral publisher's channels using BuzzFeed's nine-month-old Swarm format. Examples of content include a video where BuzzFeed staffers put sriracha on random food, articles and a quiz asking readers about foods that they'd be willing to try sriracha on. The campaign also includes a partnership with cable network IFC, which will make GIFs highlighting the sriracha peppers themselves.
Check out all three "The Theory of Sriracha" videos below.