For Franchises, All's Fair in Food and Politics

Ben & Jerry's, 7-Eleven and Pizza Hut use the 2012 election as a platform for marketing campaigns.

learn more about Dinah Wisenberg Brin

By Dinah Wisenberg Brin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As Nov. 6 draws near, some food franchises are wrapping the U.S. election into their marketing.

Ben & Jerry's, which sells its iconic ice cream through grocery stores and franchise scoop shops, continued its history of political activism this month by announcing a new special-edition pint package -- Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream.

In a salute to Comedy Central late-night TV host Colbert's super PAC parody, the container's lid skirt is imprinted with "SUPERPACK!" The actual flavor is five years old, but the 2012 packaging points to Ben & Jerry's more recent campaign to get the money out of politics. Its seeks to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that helped spawn super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations.

Other companies are embracing the election theme more than a particular political cause.

The convenience store 7-Eleven proclaimed that "politics are brewing" last month as it announced its quadrennial Presidential Coffee Cup Poll. 7-Election 2012 allows customers to indicate their presidential preference when they purchase a cup of coffee -- a blue cup imprinted with a donkey for President Barack Obama or an elephant-emblazoned red cup for Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, a 7-Eleven bus with a mobile replica of the Oval Office has been traveling around the country, and a Purple for the People slurpee has returned in a nonpartisan "peacemaker" vanilla flavor. The chain also is offering patriotic doughnuts and sponsoring The Onion's satirical campaign coverage.

Obama was ahead 60 percent to Romney's 40 percent nationally on Friday afternoon, according to 7-Eleven's election website, which also offers state-by-state tallies. No mention of hanging-chad or butterfly-ballot cups.

The election appears to be mere flavoring in Pizza Hut's marketing. The company this month called on the public to cast their "vote" for the Pizza Party, "the only party that promises to be all about fun." In what might be described as a bit of political quid pro quo, the fast-food chain is offering those who register for the party a free order of stuffed pizza rollers with their next online orders.

Pizza Hut is promoting its Big Dinner Box, a value meal that includes breadsticks and sides, as "the greatest tasting economic stimulus package in American history." An alert for outside fact checkers who may not have enough to do this election season: Pizza Hut claims that if everyone in America orders a Big Dinner Box (rather than purchasing the items separately) by Election Day, they'd save a total of $1.8 billion.

Dinah Wisenberg Brin

Dinah Wisenberg Brin is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She has covered business, politics, healthcare and general news for wire services, newspapers, blogs and other publications.

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