Fast Food and Fame: 4 Chains Which Are Riding the Influencer Wave to Promote Junk Food

The popularity of fast food chains has skyrocketed due to their ability to meet the needs of time-pressed individuals. To promote their products, fast food chains are increasingly joining up with social media personalities. This method of promotion is proven effective at bringing in new clients and expanding brand recognition. We’ll look into the background of the influencer marketing trend for fast food, as well as its effects on consumer behavior, and offer some suggestions for how to counteract it.

1. Introduction

Companies in the fast food industry have been using celebrity endorsements to promote their wares for quite some time. Yet, the advent of social media and influencer marketing has caused widespread disruption in the advertising industry in recent years. Quick-service restaurant companies have started capitalizing on the growing popularity of social media influencers as a means of reaching a wider audience and promoting their brands. This piece will examine the motivations behind this partnership and its effects on fast food businesses and customers.

While fast food restaurants can reach a younger demographic through influencer marketing, they need to be careful about the message they deliver. Fast food chains can improve their image and become more of a mainstream dining option by forming partnerships with influencers that advocate for a healthier lifestyle.

Some of the largest fast food franchises capitalizing on the influencer trend are:

McDonald’s: The Golden Arches have collaborated with many different celebrities and internet personalities, such as Travis Scott, Charli D’Amelio, David Dobrik, and Liza Koshy, and K-Pop boy band, BTS, among others. Several influential people use their social media platforms to promote McDonald’s by posting images and videos of themselves enjoying the fast food chain’s offerings.

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Fast Food and Fame: 4 Chains Which Are Riding the Influencer Wave to Promote Junk Food

Burger King: Burger King has also been quite present in the influencer sector, having collaborated with such celebrities as Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, Television star, Sima Aunty, and Trevor Noah. These collaborations have given Burger King a more contemporary and trendy vibe, which has helped the chain attract a younger clientele.

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Fast Food and Fame: 4 Chains Which Are Riding the Influencer Wave to Promote Junk Food

KFC: To market its chicken offerings, KFC has partnered with social media stars including Jack Harlow, Addison Rae, Lele Pons, and Logan Paul. Because of these collaborations, KFC is more accessible to Generation Z, which looks to social media for ideas.

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Fast Food and Fame: 4 Chains Which Are Riding the Influencer Wave to Promote Junk Food

Taco Bell: Taco Bell is an early adopter of the influencer marketing model, having begun collaborating with influencers as early as 2012. Partnerships with celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Doja Cat, and Shawn Mendes have made Taco Bell a household name among millennials.

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Fast Food and Fame: 4 Chains Which Are Riding the Influencer Wave to Promote Junk Food

These are just a few examples of the many fast food franchises that use influencers to market their items. It’s conceivable that as the influencer marketing sector expands, more fast food chains will begin to participate.

While fast food restaurants can reach a younger demographic through influencer marketing, they need to be careful about the message they deliver. Fast food chains can improve their image and become more of a mainstream dining option by forming partnerships with influencers that advocate for a healthier lifestyle.

2. The Rise of Influencer Marketing

In today’s digital world, influencer marketing has become an extremely widespread practice. Influencers are people on social media who have gathered a large number of followers and have become particularly prominent on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. These influencers have earned their followers’ credibility and trust, which makes them great partners for firms who are eager to market their products.

The rise of influencer marketing can be attributed to a number of different factors, including the following:

  • The proliferation of social media: The expansion of social media has made it possible for influential people to disseminate their material to a huge number of people. In 2017, there were more than 2.73 billion people using social media all around the world, and it is anticipated that this figure will rise to 5.85 billion by 2027.
  • The growth of people who are known as micro-influencers: Micro-influencers are individuals who have smaller but highly engaged followings. They are frequently regarded as being more genuine and trustworthy than celebrities, and it might be easier and more cost-effective to collaborate with them.
  • The growing demand for genuine content: Customers are becoming more and more interested in obtaining genuine content from companies. They don’t want to be sold to by traditional advertising; rather, they want to see regular people using and appreciating the items they sell. The use of influencer marketing can assist brands in the production of content of this kind.
  • The expansion of platforms for influencer marketing: There are currently a variety of platforms for influencer marketing, which make it simpler for firms to locate and collaborate with influencers. These platforms can assist brands in measuring the return on investment (ROI) of their influencer marketing efforts and tracking the performance of those campaigns.

Because of all of these different variables, influencer marketing has emerged as a significant player in the world of marketing. The global industry of influencer marketing was forecast to be worth $16.4 billion in 2022, and it is anticipated that by 2028, its value will have increased to $84.89 billion.

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3. The Appeal of Fast Food for Influencers

Fast food chains teaming up with internet personalities may seem like an odd fit at first, but there are many factors contributing to the rise in popularity of these partnerships. 

Here are some of the factors that contribute to the popularity of fast food among influential people.

  • Cost: Influencers can expect to be paid a significant amount of money by fast food companies in exchange for promoting their products. This is due to the fact that they are aware that influencers have a sizable fan base and that the endorsements they provide can be quite successful.
  • Reach: Because influencers have a large audience to which they can potentially promote their content, fast food firms can benefit from working with them. This is of utmost significance for fast food firms, which are concentrating their marketing efforts on younger customers.
  • Authenticity: Because consumers view influencers as more authentic than traditional celebrities, the endorsements they provide are more likely to be trusted by customers. This is essential information for fast food chains that are working to enhance their public image.
  • Creativity: Influencers are creative individuals who are capable of thinking up fresh and engaging new ways to advertise fast food products. Because of this, their endorsements may become more interesting to listen to and easier to recall.

4. Benefits for Fast Food Chains

Fast food franchises can reap several rewards from forging partnerships with powerful people. Campaigns utilizing influencers tend to have better ROIs because of the specificity with which they are aimed.
The use of influencer marketing by fast food chains can be an extremely efficient way to communicate with their ideal customers. The following is a list of some of the benefits that fast food chains can receive from marketing through influencers:

  • Increased reach: Influencers can assist fast food chains in reaching a large audience with the content that they produce by sharing it with their followers. This is especially helpful for fast food chains that are aiming their offerings at a particular demographic, such as young people or families, as it allows them to better serve their customers.
  • Brand awareness: Influencer marketing can help to build brand awareness and generate interest in the products or services offered by a fast food chain, which are both goals of the marketing strategy. This is due to the fact that influencers typically have a sizable following comprised of devoted and enthusiastic followers.
  • Drive sales: Influencer marketing can help drive sales by encouraging followers to buy products or services offered by a fast food chain. This helps drive sales. This can be accomplished through the use of product placement, coupon codes, or even just the production of content that makes the products appear more appealing.
  • Increase the level of consumer engagement: One way to do this is to use influencer marketing to persuade followers to interact with the content that a fast food restaurant publishes. This can be accomplished through the use of likes, comments, and shares.
  • Establish a favorable relationship with the brand: The use of influencer marketing can assist in establishing a favorable association with the brand for fast food businesses. This is due to the fact that influencers are frequently regarded as reliable sources of information by the people who follow them.

Fast food chains may find great success with influencer marketing as a way to increase their brand’s visibility, generate more business, and strengthen relationships with their customers. This is a common desired outcome of influencer marketing campaigns. To reach one’s objectives, one must first choose the right influencers and then create content of the best quality.

5. Ethical Concerns and Criticisms

Though fast food chains have found success with influencer marketing, the sector as a whole has been criticized for a variety of unethical criticism. Obesity and poor eating habits are an increasing concern in the United States, and some people blame the widespread advertising of harmful goods by powerful people. As more and more influencers back businesses without explicitly disclosing their ties to them, it’s becoming harder to tell which recommendations are genuine and which are paid for. Several moral questions are being raised about this.

Regulators are increasing the amount of mandatory disclosure and developing more stringent criteria to deal with these problems. Fast food chains risk losing customers’ trust if they aren’t transparent about the deals they make with influencers.

Fast food companies’ use of social media influencers in advertising has drawn criticism and ethical concerns. The following are a few of the more significant ones:

  • Health Concerns: Because it is frequently heavy in calories, fat, and sugar, promoting fast food is considered unethical by some individuals. These individuals are concerned about the health of their customers. They contend that this can cause young people, who are more susceptible to being influenced by outside factors, to develop harmful eating habits.
  • Implications with regard to ethics: Some individuals hold the view that it is unethical for influencers to promote fast food brands that have been accused of engaging in unethical acts, such as the mistreatment of animals or the destruction of the environment. They contend that this can give these brands the impression that they are more legitimate than they are.
  • Absence of transparency: Some people have the opinion that it is unethical for influencers to promote fast food brands without declaring that they have been paid to do so. This is because they believe that this behavior is unethical and lacks transparency. They contend that this is deceptive to followers and can drive individuals to make decisions that are detrimental to their health.
  • Culture of influencers: There are some people who believe that influencer marketing is part of a wider issue involving the culture of influencers, which they perceive as being damaging to young people. These people believe that influencer marketing is part of the problem. They say that influential people often promote unrealistic body images and lifestyles, which can lead to issues related to body image as well as other problems.

In general, influencer marketing for fast food companies raises a lot of ethical concerns and is criticized in a number of different ways. It is essential for companies and influencers te aware of these problems and to take action to address them as soon as possible.

6. Impact on Consumer Behavior

There is little doubt that the influencer wave in the marketing of fast food has had an effect on consumer behavior. The consistent viewing of mouthwatering information related to food on social media sites might induce feelings of hunger and lead to impulsive purchasing. Customers, especially those in the younger age bracket, are more likely to patronize fast food businesses that have been supported by their favorite influencers. This is especially true for younger consumers.

The way consumers behave has been significantly influenced by the rise of influencer marketing. The following is a list of some of the most significant ways in which influencer marketing has affected the behavior of consumers:

  • Improved brand awareness: The process of exposing a brand to a new audience is one way that influencer marketing may assist in increasing brand awareness. When an influencer endorses a product or service, the people who follow that influencer are exposed to the brand in question and may be more inclined to keep it in mind the next time they are in the market for a product or service.
  • Promote sales: Influencer marketing may be helpful in driving sales by encouraging followers to buy a brand’s products or services. This can be accomplished by driving traffic to the brand’s website. For instance, a brand’s discount code could be included in a post that an influencer creates and publishes on their platform. This may entice followers to make a purchase by using the coupon and buying something.
  • Change in buying behavior: Influencer marketing can also affect buying behavior by persuading followers to buy products or services that they usually wouldn’t have considered. This is a form of “outside the box” thinking that can lead to significant sales increases. An example of this would be an influencer promoting a new product that is not yet well-recognized by the general public. If the influencer’s audience thinks the product has any redeeming qualities, there is a better chance that they will buy it.
  • Establish a trustworthy relationship: Marketing with influential people can assist in establishing a trustworthy relationship between a brand and its customers. When followers of an influencer see that the influencer is endorsing a company that they trust, it increases the likelihood that the followers will trust the brand as well. This may result in greater sales as well as loyalty to the brand.
  • Increase in awareness: Influencer marketing is another method that can be used to provide social proof for a brand by demonstrating that other people are utilizing and appreciating the products or services being offered by the brand in question. When followers of an influencer notice that their favorite influencer is using a product, the likelihood of those followers wanting to try the product themselves increases. This may result in an increase in both sales and awareness of the brand.

Consumers’ decisions have been demonstrated to be significantly influenced by influencer marketing campaigns. Since influencer marketing can potentially expose brands to new audiences, drive sales, shift purchasing behavior, develop trust, and generate social proof, it may be an invaluable tool for businesses seeking to reach their target audience and achieve their marketing goals.

Yet, as people gain more information about health and well-being, their tastes are beginning to change. The growth of understanding is responsible for these shifting tastes. Many fast food chains have begun offering healthier menu options in response to customer demand. Promoting these healthy options and striking a balance between indulging and taking care of oneself may also be accomplished through collaborations with famous people.

7. Balancing Health and Indulgence

Fast food restaurants must adapt to the ever-changing preferences of their customers by providing a wide range of options. By partnering with influencers, they can draw attention to the healthier options on their menu and the steps they’re doing to reduce their goods’ negative effects on people’s health, giving them a leg up on the competition. Fast food chains can use this tactic to stay relevant in an increasingly health-conscious society.

When it comes to influencer marketing, striking a healthy balance between extravagance and health can be difficult, but it is not impossible. The following are some suggestions for brands that are interested in doing this:

  • Choose the right influencers: It is essential to consider the influencer’s audience and the principles they uphold when selecting influencers. It is essential for companies to choose influencers who advocate for a healthy lifestyle and who are not embarrassed to talk about indulging in a guilty pleasure occasionally and in moderation.
  • Be open and honest: It is important for brands to be open and honest about their partnerships with influencers. Companies have a responsibility to reveal whether or not influencers have been compensated to promote their goods or services, and they have an additional responsibility to ensure that influencers are labeling their posts with the hashtags #ad or #sponsored.
  • Make content that is genuine: It is important for companies to make content that is genuine and that matches the ideals of the influencers they work with. Because of this, the influencer’s followers will be more likely to trust the company, which will help establish trust among the followers in the first place.
  • Moderation is key: When promoting their goods or services, brands should keep moderation front and center in their communications with consumers. They shouldn’t advertise their products as a way to reduce weight or as a healthier alternative to other foods because none of those things are true. Instead, they ought to place an emphasis on the pleasure that may be derived from their wares as well as the fact that this pleasure can be had in moderation as part of a healthy way of life.
  • Always keep in mind your target market: When promoting their goods or services, companies should always keep in mind the people they are targeting. They shouldn’t market their goods to minors or to those who are actively working to improve their health by cutting calories. They should, rather, center their efforts on marketing their wares to consumers who are looking for ways to enjoy them in a controlled manner.

8. The Future of Influencer Marketing in the Fast Food Industry

It’s likely that “influencer marketing” will grow in prominence in the fast food industry during the coming years. To be relevant in the face of changing consumer wants and preferences, brands will need to prioritize transparency, authenticity, and the promotion of healthy alternatives. In a rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, collaborating with key opinion leaders will remain an efficient means of reaching and engaging with target audiences.
The following patterns are anticipated to emerge as defining characteristics of the future of influencer marketing in the quick-service restaurant industry:

  • Increasing concentration on authenticity: As customers become more aware of the significance of authenticity, fast food firms will need to concentrate their efforts on forming partnerships with influencers who are perceived as authentic and trustworthy. This entails forming collaborations with influencers who are open about the brands with which they are affiliated and who are not embarrassed to present themselves.
  • Increased attention paid to health and wellness: As customers grow more health-conscious, brands of fast food will need to pay more attention to working with influencers who encourage healthy eating habits in order to remain competitive. In order to accomplish this, you should form partnerships with influencers who provide healthy recipes, discuss the significance of moderation, and advocate for a healthy way of life.
  • Increasing usage of augmented and virtual reality: When augmented and virtual reality technology becomes more widely available, fast food brands will be able to employ these technologies to create influencer marketing campaigns that are more immersive and engaging for consumers. This entails developing marketing campaigns that provide users with the opportunity to try out the products of the business in a simulated setting or that provide users with the opportunity to interact with influencers in a manner that is more authentic.
  • More emphasis on local partnerships: As customers become more interested in purchasing from local businesses, fast food manufacturers will need to increase their efforts to form partnerships with influencers that have a sizeable fan base in their respective communities. This entails forming partnerships with influential people who are well-known for their involvement in the communities in which they live and who are widely considered to be a part of that fabric.

In general, it is likely that the future of influencer marketing in the fast food business will be characterized by a focus on authenticity, health, and wellbeing, augmented reality, and virtual reality, as well as local relationships. By concentrating on these trends, fast food firms will be able to develop influencer marketing strategies that are more effective and engaging for customers, which will resonate with those customers.

9. Conclusion

The campaigns waged by fast food chains and celebrities to get people to eat unhealthy foods have been successful so far. Because of their big followings, influencers allow brands to spread their messages to a wide variety of potential buyers. While there are moral issues, they can be addressed with more transparency and laws. The food market is always developing to accommodate a wide range of tastes and preferences.


1. Are influencer campaigns cost-effective for fast food chains? 

Yes, influencer campaigns are a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising with higher ROI.

2. How do influencer collaborations impact consumer behavior?

Influencer collaborations can influence consumer behavior by creating cravings and impulse purchases, particularly among younger consumers.

3. Do fast food chains promote healthier options through influencers? 

Collaborations between influencers and fast food chains can help promote healthier options on menus.

4. What are the ethical concerns surrounding influencer marketing in the fast food industry? 

Promoting unhealthy eating and lack of transparency in influencer partnerships are ethical concerns.

5. What is the future of influencer marketing in the fast food industry? 

The future of fast food influencer marketing is adapting to consumer demands, promoting transparency, and focusing on healthier options.

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