Marketers Inject Burgers, Burritos Into Political Debate

This presidential election may be an important turning point in the nation’s history, but that hasn’t stopped various marketers from piggybacking on the election to score a few laughs. 

For instance, this week,, which calls itself “The official Vegas travel site,” will launch “Crapshoot ’08” with the tag, “Because you need to be drunk to make it through this election.” Last week, Burger King unveiled “Have it your way,” supporting consumers’ “Right to vote,” be it at the poll or when ordering customized food orders at a BK drive-thru.

As with the general election, the Internet plays a major role in many campaigns. Burger King’s effort includes interactive applications at Facebook and MySpace where visitors can share their political opinions and debate others. A TV spot shows real customers at BK drive-thrus “in the act of exercising their right to make a decision” while ordering. The spot drives consumers to, and to register to vote.

Meanwhile, Qdoba Mexican Grill is analyzing the food personalities of the candidates and visitors at; Facebook and MySpace elements are part of the push. “We see the election as an opportunity for Qdoba to be part of the conversation that was already existing,” said Doug Thielen, manager of nontraditional marketing at Qdoba Mexican Grill, Wheat Ridge, Colo. “It’s a place to insert ourself into that through the use of social media and give people a chance to talk about politics within the context of Qdoba.” online and print ads will urge visitors to enter their favorite candidate or “none of the above” when booking to get $20 discounts on purchases of $200 or more. The site will include a running tab of poll results.

Snack brand LesserEvil has declared itself “the official snack of the ’08 election.” At its Web site, visitors can blog about their “salty-sweet” election comments and track a LesserEvil field team distributing samples at campuses hosting presidential debates.

Scott Davis, senior partner at brand consultancy Prophet, New York/Chicago, said the election can be a good opportunity for marketers. “There are those two extremes, socially conscious and building a brand around being fun,” he said. “Then there are . . . brands that are just grabbing onto the promotion because it is low hanging fruit.”

Yet, Davis said those brands should be careful: “You have to have caution if you’re a brand without a point of view and you’re sticking your nose into this election. Your brand could be called out. This is something that could fundamentally shift the landscape in America.”