What does the royal wedding have to do with American fast-food chains?
Not much — but that doesn't mean that brands aren't going to try and cash in on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's big day.
In the week leading up to the royal nuptials, a growing number of brands have come out with deals and promotions to align themselves with Meghan and Harry's wedding. The royal wedding is expected to provide the British economy with a $1.4 billion boost so it makes sense that brands are hungry to get a cut of the cash.
However, the stunts are getting pretty weird. Impressively, they've managed to come across as bizarre even in the crowded field that is modern marketing. This is in an era where dessert brands are tweeting: "If a MoonPie sees its shadow on this day it will signal the end of times."
In an effort to quantitatively measure just how much the brands are at it again, Business Insider created a ranking system just for the occasion. The system addresses three factors — absurdity, humour, and the weakness of their connection between the brand and the wedding — that are ranked on a scale from one to five, five being the top score.
Here's how companies' attempts to cash in on the royal wedding measure up:
Strongbow is trying to cash in on what it calls Americans' "obsession" with the royal wedding by rolling out a new flavor of cider and special teacups.
"Through the union of our British heritage and a modern twist on rosé, we are marrying two of America's latest obsessions just in time for the fairy tale Royal Wedding this spring," Jessica Robinson, the vice president of parent company Portfolio Brands, said in a statement.
Strongbow is an aggressively British brand trying to expand in the US, so it makes sense that the royal wedding is like catnip to them.
Or does it? If anything, this royal wedding promotion may just be a little too on the nose. Teacups play into American stereotypes of Britishness to a degree that is almost embarrassing. Who is Strongbow trying to fool here?!
The connection between Dairy Queen and the royal wedding is tenuous, but it's there.
I mean, first of all, we've got Dairy Queen. For those unfamiliar with the chain's dessert menu, it sells "Royal Treats." And, from there, it's an easy transition from royal treats to royal wedding. Honestly, Dairy Queen should have just called up Meghan and catered the entire thing.
Unfortunately, Dairy Queen isn't giving out free dessert on Saturday. It's just advertising the Royal Oreo Blizzard Treat and the Royal New York Cheesecake Blizzard Treat. A waste of a royal wedding, if you ask me.
On Sunday, somebody paid $9,897 (R123,448) for a "one-of-a-kind PEZ dispenser set" that looks like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
"In 2011, PEZ worked with eBay for Charity to auction off an exclusive pair of royal dispensers for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton," the candy brand said in a statement. "After seeing success from that campaign and the growing number of fans of the married couple-to-be, PEZ was prompted to create this set to benefit Make-A-Wish foundation."
I do not know if Price Harry had to sign off on his face looking like a redhead Shrek, but it's for charity, so I guess we can let it slide.
I also do not know who bid almost R125,000 for this, though skimming through his or her eBay accounts reveals many other PEZ-related bids. I hope that this pair of lovebirds vomiting up candies is the pièce de résistance of the lucky bidder's PEZ dispenser collection.
You know what's wild? We still don't know what Meghan Markle is wearing on her wedding day. Everyone has been Googling this for months. Pretty much every publication has been trying to provide an answer so that people will click on their link instead of some other publication's link. But no one really knows yet!
Anyway, SpikedSeltzer decided it doesn't matter if no one knows and just ploughed right on ahead with its royal wedding game plan, which is that Meghan Markle will wear a mermaid dress.
"Will this year's most anticipated wedding gown be a mermaid silhouette? SpikedSeltzer certainly hopes so," the "mermaid-inspired, original brand of alcoholic sparkling water" said in a press release.
On Saturday, SpikedSeltzer is giving away $1,900 (Almost R24,000) discounts for 10 mermaid-silhouette wedding dresses bought from Kleinfeld in New York City. The wedding dress shop is also serving up drinks made with SpikedSeltzer.
What happens if Meghan doesn't wear a mermaid silhouette dress? The deal is still on! Hopefully brides-to-be are making choices based on discounts from alcoholic sparkling water brands, not Meghan Markle-centric fashion trends.
The chain is giving away 50 "specially designed buckets" at a location near Windsor Castle.
A KFC spokesperson commented: "When we discovered Prince Harry proposed over a roast chicken, we simply had to show our support for the big occasion. We’re preparing for a rush in orders on Saturday as the people of Windsor flock to our Dedworth Road restaurant to get their hands on this priceless piece of British history."
However, it has been established that Meghan Markle's roast chicken was an Ina Garten recipe, forcing us to ask some hard questions.
How will the Barefoot Contessa feel when she hears KFC is inserting itself into her royal chicken narrative? Could this kick off a feud between the chicken chain and Ina Garten? As an American and British royalty come together with love, is war between two American chicken legends brewing?
Perhaps the only solution is to cobble together a new Frankenstein of marketing synergy: an ad campaign starring Ina Garten as Colonel Sanders.
The chain is giving away a limited number of food-themed fascinators and cuff links to celebrate the wedding.
Chili's said in a press release: "You’re probably wondering 'Why? Why did Chili’s create burger, rib, fajita and margarita-inspired fascinators and cufflinks?' Well, because - 'Why not?'"
I personally was not wondering that, because the answer is clearly "to run royal wedding-related advertising by any means necessary." And, it's an answer I support with my entire heart.
Full-disclosure: Chili's sent me a fascinator and it looks truly absurd! It is significantly larger than my head and I look very foolish in it. I will probably keep it on my desk for a year and never find a reason to wear it and then throw it away. I love it.
Dunkin' Donuts' royal wedding game plan started both as normally and as bizarrely as any other.
The CEO, Nigel Travis, is a dual US-British citizen. It's easy enough for the chain to make some heart-shaped doughnuts and sell them as the "new Royal Love Donut," available from May 14 to 20. And, Dunkin' put the frosting on the doughnut with some horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City.
Then, Princess Carole Ann Radziwill got involved.
Listen, Carole. If you're going to criticise fellow Real Housewife of New York Countess Luanne on Twitter for using her rightful title, don't roll up in a Dunkin' Donuts-branded carriage the week before the royal wedding. You can't call someone a "condescending b---- in countess clothes" and then show up with a literal doughnut on your head! Money can't buy you class, princess.
Have you always dreamed of being a princess? Well, according to Velveeta — yes, the processed-cheese product — you are a sad fool.
"We've always been told that the life of a princess is something to aspire to … the castles, the luxury, the fame, the gold," the brand said in a press release. "The truth is, the royal treatment isn't all it's cracked up to be – there are rules on what to wear, how to act and even what to say – so Velveeta Shells & Cheese is giving people an even better crown, fit for a Queen."
That's right — limited-edition, crown-shaped mac and cheese is apparently better than marrying a hot, rich dude and becoming an international celebrity.
The pasta comes with a gold-plated spoon.