Ariana Madix continues her love affair with brands, whipping up a ‘Burgertini’ for Red Robin

CMO Kevin Mayer explains why the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ star is the perfect influencer for the evolving restaurant chain

Published On
Oct 24, 2023
Ariana Madix shaking up a "Burgertini" in a kitchen, with the ingredients on the counter in front of her

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Ariana Madix continues to ride a wave of brand-endorsement deals with a new social video for Red Robin in which she creates a “Burgertini” cocktail—made with the restaurant chain’s new premium ingredients.

Madix—named Us Weekly’s Reality Star of the Year this week following an eventful season of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules,” where she earned widespread support after being cheated on by her longtime boyfriend—whips up the savory cocktail in a charming two-minute video on TikTok and Instagram.

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The branding is fairly minimal, allowing Madix—a bartender by trade, and author of an upcoming cocktail book—to mostly be herself. Red Robin doesn’t sell a Burgertini—this is more about using a current trend (savory cocktails) to emphasize Red Robin’s recent menu improvements, particularly the upgraded ingredients in its gourmet burgers.


Red Robin worked with talent agency A3 Artists Agency, which reps Madix, and with director Brand Birtwistle at The Brand Productions on the shoot. Headstand handled PR.

Kevin Mayer, who joined Red Robin in May as chief maketing officer, told Ad Age that the Madix campaign is part of a larger effort to be more “guest centric”—focusing more on the customer in the marketing than on the chain itself. It’s also about broadening Red Robin’s appeal to younger audiences.

“For the last 10-15 years, we’ve been very family centric and kid centric,” he said. “But this is a 54-year-old brand. If you go back to our heyday, we were a brand for everybody—teenagers, young families, college buddies, a girls’ night out. It was a brand that excelled at the experience. It was fun, it was indulgent.” 

In pivoting to being more guest-centric, he added, “we want to make sure we're connecting with younger folks. Gen Z and even Gen Y—they’re very much foodies. They're going to care about upgraded ingredients and a better burger.” 

Ariana Madix in the new Red Robin video

Thus, the Madix video, he said, hits both strategies—hitting on a quality message, but doing so in a way that’s entertainment and personality first, and brand second.

Madix was the perfect talent, Mayer added—a magnetic personality who’s beloved by many and is also credible in the cocktail space.

“She's kind of a hero right now in the reality television world because of what she's been through,” said Mayer. “She’s doing ‘Dancing with the Stars’ now. She's also got a very authentic personality, when you get to know her, that very much fits with our brand. She was a great partner.” 

Red Robin food on the set of Ariana Madix's new Red Robin video

The final step in the process was step back and really cede a lot of the control of the video to Madix—again, to further build credibility. 

“She’s got a following because people can relate to her,” said Mayer. “We encouraged her to be herself. A lot of the quips and lines came from her just kind of riffing. The idea was, let's put together a cool martini—and let it be more hers than ours.” 

Mayer said the video brought in more than 500,000 views in the first few days, and helped Red Robin boost its Instagram following. More content with Madix is forthcoming, he added.

Earlier this month, Red Robin announced a new lineup of gourmet burgers, entrées, appetizers, beverages and more, following the introduction of new flattop grills at locations nationwide. "Red Robin has heard burger lovers' desire for us to get back to our gourmet roots," said Brian Sullivan, executive chef and VP of culinary and beverage innovation. "We're raising our game to deliver a truly crave worthy burger experience with a number of upgrades that mean bigger, better flavor.”

In additon to Red Robin, Madix’s endorsement deals over the past few months include Duracell, Uber One, SoFi, Lay’s, Biz razors, Bloomingdale’s, the Bellesa Boutique sex shop and at least four smaller brands.