Lowdown: Wendy's, Pop Tarts Crank Up Music Marketing

American Authors, Ne-Yo and DNCE Among Acts Teaming With Brands This Summer

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The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

For marketers, summer apparently means it's time to crank up the music marketing. Several brands this week announced new ad programs featuring plenty of tunes and music deals.

Let's start with Wendy's, which on Monday offered its social followers the chance to hear and stream a new song from American Authors, "Right Here Right Now." A digital video allowed viewers to hear the song while looking at close-ups of Wendy's new limited-time Bacon Mozzarella burger.

Wendy's posts and a Shazam icon in places such as video spots being shown in movie theaters send followers to a site to stream the song. By 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the video was viewed more than 1.3 million times on Facebook and more than 536,000 times on Twitter, according to Wendy's. The chain said American Authors may also do an "impromptu" live concert, which fans can learn about by following both Wendy's and the band's social channels.

Meanwhile, Kellogg Co.-owned Pop Tarts has partnered with Universal Music Group for a new program that blends pop, R&B, rock and country music. The brand is plugging a first-ever duet from Ne-Yo and DNCE featuring a mash-up of "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)" and "Cake by the Ocean." Kellogg is touting the program as "inspired by Pop-Tarts' new mash-ups with soda pop flavors -- Frosted Crush Orange and Frosted A&W Root Beer." The song is available on mash-up app Smule.

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Dunkin' Donuts is back with another song from two iced coffee fans who are not known for their musical talents. After last year's "Summer Chill," Dunkin' Donuts brought Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox back together at the beach house for "Dunkin' Paradise." The guys, better known to fans as Gronk and Big Papi, are being featured on Dunkin' Donuts' YouTube page.

Through Thursday, fans in New England can go to a Dunkin' Donuts to unlock a special Snapchat geofilter showing the duo. Dunkin' Donuts signed a two-year agreement with Mr. Gronkowski in 2015, and has a partnership with Mr. Ortiz through the end of the 2016 season. The campaign, which includes TV, radio, digital, social media and special events, comes from SapientNitro.

Now onto more basic marketing -- like value meals. In recent months many fast-feeders have played up bundles priced at $2, $4 or $5. Burger King's latest offer has what could be called a Whopper of a price tag. Its latest offer is a 2 for $10 Whopper deal, featuring two Whoppers, two small fries and two small drinks. The burger chain is also still promoting a 5 for $4 meal and a 2 for $5 mix-and-match sandwich offer. Meanwhile, BK in Brazil came up with its own smelly way to promote the Whopper.

Burger King offers
Burger King offers Credit: Burger King

Pizza Hut offered up the restaurant industry's latest updated quality efforts this week, timing that coincides with the chain's 58th anniversary. The Yum Brands chain's new goals might help it appeal to diners who want to know more about where their food comes from. Pizza Hut announced plans to drop artificial flavors and colors from its core pizzas in May 2015. Now it plans to remove BHA/BHT from all meats by the end of July; remove artificial preservatives from cheese by the end of March 2017; drop antibiotics important to human medicine from the chicken used for its pizzas by end of March 2017; and remove additional additives and preservatives by 2020. The new commitments exclude WingStreet wings. Its food sourcing was described in a video featuring founder Dan Carney and others and on a new microsite.

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Pizza Hut is also tying itself into the "Say It with Pepsi" emoji campaign. Starting June 1, customers can get a free one-topping personal pan pizza for carryout if they bring in a Pepsi bottle that has the slice of pizza or full pizza "PepsiMoji" design on it. (Pizza Hut and Pepsi were under the same corporate umbrella for years, until PepsiCo spun off its restaurants into Tricon Global Restaurants in 1997. Tricon later changed its name to Yum.)

Basketball fans without ties to Oakland or Cleveland might be rooting for wins by visiting teams in the NBA Finals, not just for excitement but for a free taco. In its latest sports-themed giveaway tactic, Pizza Hut's sibling brand Taco Bell will offer free Doritos Locos Tacos if the Cleveland Cavaliers pull off a win in Oakland's Oracle Arena or if the Golden State Warriors are victorious in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. The "Steal a Game, Steal a Taco" promotional partnership with the NBA follows the chain's "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" campaign tied to the World Series, which has run a few times since 2007. Last year, for example, diners could get a free A.M. Crunchwrap a few days after the Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain stole second base in Game 1 of the World Series against the Mets. The NBA promotion is available during limited hours on limited days. Fans are encouraged to check out the site for details.

It's no longer enough to be the Uber of laundry. Cleanly is launching what it calls the "Amazon Prime" of laundry in New York City with "Cleanly Reserve," which allows people unlimited free pickup and delivery (scheduled within a one-hour window) of their laundry and dry cleaning. The program, rolling out today along with a new iOs app, also offers 10% discounts on cleaning, which is done through partner dry cleaning and laundry services in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Developed by a "6-sigma certified team of logistics experts and ex-military supply-chain software engineers," Cleanly claims to be profitable in New York, with plans to expand to Boston, Washington and Chicago. It may soon bump heads with another outfit that's no stranger to 6-sigma black belts and ex-military personnel -- Procter & Gamble Co. -- which launched a test of Tide Spin, a similar laundry pickup service, late last year. Washio, another competitor, operates in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Washington.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff