White Castle knows its fans always crave more Sliders. So its new spring campaign encourages them to think about the classic burger as a culinary blank canvas, turning it into share-worthy recipes like Bunny Sliders and Brunch Cravers Benedict. The Columbus, Ohio-based chain says the effort is its latest way to give its hard-core customers, known as Cravers, a little bit of a laugh.
Will any of the Slider-based recipes make the cover of Bon Appetit? Probably not. “But the basis of everything we do is creating awareness and giving people something to smile about,” says Jamie Richardson, vice president of marketing. “And it’s been a rough 12 months. People really need a reason to smile.”
To go along with the new recipe push, it’s also offering the Cravey Boat it began testing last Thanksgiving, a $25 branded collectible. It’s even giving the table-top item some Suez Canal-type spoofing on social media. The gravy boat is part of its 100-year celebration, and Richardson says the minute agency Blue Chip suggested it, he knew it would be a hit with its audience. “Our vision is to bring joy to people, and what could be better than being in the center of their dining room table?”
Richardson admits gravy boats, which he says date back to 1780 or so, might not seem hip. But combined with other activations, like inviting rapper Coolio to demo Slider Stuffing last November, it all makes sense to superfans. The company is sharing these efforts in the social media channels where those fans spend most of their time, from Pinterest to TikTok.
“These aren’t one-offs,” he tells QSR Land. “They are part of a symphony of ongoing conversations. The idea is that we use them to ask ourselves, 'Are we making more friends every day?’”
White Castle, still family-owned, timed this particular push to Easter, but recipe swapping has been part of its fan adoration for years. In addition to the Thanksgiving stuffing, for example, it showcases Slider Robots and Slider Spiders at Halloween.
Besides the Craver fan base, it also prides itself on keeping employees longer than other chains and says one in four has worked for White Castle for 10 or more years.
Richardson says that’s an integral part of all its marketing. “We focus on Cravers and Would-be Cravers, but out 10,000 team members are an important audience, especially for spreading activations like these in social media.”