Pitbull plans to play an active role at Miami Subs. He’ll serve as a member of the privately held Fort Lauderdale company’s board of directors and provide the company with input on aspects from marketing to menu development for a new Latin Fusion menu. He has already been the subject of a Win Lunch with Pitbull contest.
The next step could be a Pitbull video or song lyric featuring Miami Subs. You might find Pitbull’s music videos playing on the flatscreen televisions in the Miami Subs restaurant or some other image of the star. A new concept in the works for Miami Subs and Pitbull will be called OMG, Oh Miami Grill, and may feature Pitbull’s name.
But one thing Pitbull promises is that the integration of the two brands will be subtle. “To me it’s about sophisticated integration,” he said. “It’s not something we want to be in people’s face. I’m not going to be saying, “Go eat there and I’m going to give you a sale on a burger for $2.99.”
Alignments between celebrities and restaurant chains have become common. Some involve stars pitching the product, as in Burger King’s recent marketing campaign featuring actress Salma Hayek, Aerosmith rock star Steven Tyler and comedian Jay Leno. In others, such as former Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula’s namesake restaurants, celebrities take a more active role.
Whatever the structure, celebrity affiliations pose risks; any image problems can transfer to the product. But a celebrity connection can also boost brand recognition — the expected results, say industry experts, in the Pitbull-Subs scenario.
“The brand is old and it competes in a highly competitive market,” said Dean Haskell, principal with restaurant consulting firm, National Retail Concept Partners. “This is a way for them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and gain exposure to a new demographic. The more you can connect [Pitbull] physically to the brand, the more successful they will be. If they execute, it could have long-term success for the brand and the owners.”