- White Castle is proposing the first-ever "Slider Summit" to gather leaders in Washington, D.C., in an effort to "continue important conversations" amid the partial federal government shutdown, the brand announced.
- The fast-food chain is also offering to drive its food truck, the Crave Mobile, more than 300 miles to the nation's capital to serve up meals for the summit. Executives of the company say they're "standing by for a bipartisan invitation" to D.C. Fans can show their support for the proposed event by using the hashtag #SliderSummit on social media.
- On Jan. 29, White Castle locations around the country will serve free combo meals to federal employees affected by the government shutdown.
White Castle says its offer to drive the Crave Mobile from its Columbus, Ohio, home base to Washington, D.C., is an effort to bring people together and help find a solution to some of the country's biggest problems, namely the current government shutdown, which is the longest in U.S. history. However, offering to cater a federal discussion in the nation's capital appears to be more of a marketing stunt by White Castle as it attempts to drum up some brand awareness by inserting itself into the current zeitgeist.
Encouraging fans to support the #SliderSummit on social media will likely spark conversations — potentially both positive and negative — among consumers online. It's yet to be seen whether the campaign will drive sales at the fast-food chain.
While White Castle says its stunt is a bipartisan move, the campaign underscores how brands are increasingly sharing their opinions and taking stances on political or social issues. White Castle joins several other restaurant chains in offering free meals to federal workers affected by the shutdown. Kraft announced a pop-up grocery store in Washington, D.C., giving government workers a free bag of Kraft products and asking that they donate to charity once they return to work to pay the good deed forward.
Cause-driven efforts tend to resonate with consumers, with 63% of people saying they prefer to buy products from companies that stand for values that reflect their own beliefs, an Accenture survey found. Sixty-two percent want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues that they care most about.
As the government shutdown drags on, White Castle isn't alone in chiming in to the conversation. Columbia Sportswear took out full-page ads in newspapers including The Washington Post, featuring the tagline, "Make America's Parks Open Again," and encouraging politicians to work together to reopen national parks. REI tweeted a report on the impact of the limited services available at federal public lands and suggested that national parks use their fees to maintain operations. Similarly, The North Face encouraged customers to donate to the National Parks Foundation and use hashtag #WeAreParks to spark conversations across social media.