- Seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster is promoting the holidays with a new limited-edition "ugly" holiday sweater, according to a press details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The "Cheddar Bay Biscuit Ugly Holiday Sweater" is covered in snowflakes, shrimp and biscuits, and also features a built-in insulated pocket that's intended to keep the chain's Cheddar Bay Biscuits warm.
- The apparel will be for sale through a new online pop-up store at RedLobsterShop.com. The site, which goes live on Nov. 26, at 12 p.m. ET, will feature the sweaters for $39.99, as well as t-shirts, fanny packs and additional stocking stuffers.
Ugly sweaters have been on the menu for marketers looking to connect with consumers in a playful way during the holidays for years, and it doesn’t seem to be a passing trend. Red Lobster joins other brands in the restaurant category and beyond that are focusing more of their novelty merchandise efforts online as e-commerce and areas like delivery become more important to consumers.
Like Red Lobster, Oreo is selling a $70 ugly holiday sweater on its own e-commerce store this year. The Nabisco marketer had centered some of its previous holiday efforts on Amazon, but focusing on its own online shop could allow the brand to more directly collect retail customer data for future marketing purposes.
Ugly sweaters tend to move quickly as consumers search out last-minute gift ideas or something distinctive to wear to holiday parties. Last year, Pillsbury's line of ugly Christmas sweaters featuring the General Mills brand's Doughboy mascot sold out within two hours of going live.
Red Lobster has dabbled in limited-edition apparel items in the recent past. The company promoted "National Biscuit Day" earlier this year by giving away insulated fanny packs that customers were encouraged to use as a storage space for leftover cheddar biscuits.
Ugly holiday sweaters have expanded from a niche, ironic novelty product into a fairly big business. Sales at UglyChristmasSweater.com, for example, have been on the rise over the several years since the site launched in 2012.
During the 2018 holiday season, the site saw sales rise 12% year-over-year. The e-commerce destination, which also licenses branded ugly sweaters to major companies like Bud Light, Frito Lay and Twitter, sold 115,000 products in 2018, the majority of which were ugly sweaters, according to Digital Commerce News.