It has long been assumed by the mainstream media and political pundits everywhere that this presidential election is, in truth, a two-candidate race.

Well, here’s another reminder that you should always save room for the turkey.

In late September, MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes announced its contender for the nation’s top office: not a third-party nominee, but a Bird Party one, with a backstory, platform, and fanbase in tow.

Who is this mysterious addition? Raised on a farm in Arkansas, his family saved enough money to send him to prep school, where he was a star wingback on the football team. He studied biochemistry at Cranford University and wrote a senior thesis on the effects of tryptophan. At George Wattle University, he built the foundation for his private practice, a business that has fought for presidential pardons each Thanksgiving Day.

“We had a little fun with this,” says Natalie Anderson Liu, MOOYAH’s vice president of marketing.

Given the volatile nature of this race, Anderson Liu and MOOYAH recognized an opportunity to embrace the lighter side of things. A copywriter came up with a list of names for the brand’s latest LTO and “The Crandidate” instantly leapt off the page. The all-natural Jennie-O turkey burger, which is topped with real Swiss cheese, crispy fried onion strings, Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce, crisp green leaf lettuce, and a touch of mayo, could have easily found a home in the holiday aisle. But Anderson Liu recognized the political potential right away.

“When we saw that one, it was just, OK, no brainer, that’s the one. It was that quick and easy. We were like ‘The Crandidate,’ oh, my gosh, that’s perfect,” she says.

The Dallas-based fast casual has always had a playful side. They feature a different burger each month and often present fun, comical takes on current ingredients. With The Crandidate, Anderson Liu explains the brand isn’t trying to make a political statement in either direction. It’s just about interacting with a contentious climate that could use an infusion of levity. As the brand states, “end our nation’s squabbling and get us back to gobbling.”

“We do not want to pretend like we are endorsing any candidate or feel like we are taking anything too seriously with this election,” Anderson Liu adds. “It is a very sensitive election. I guess every election there are strong feelings one way or the other, but this one is a little different. And we felt that we didn’t want to avoid it. We wanted to be part of the conversation. But in a way that was satirical, light-hearted, and hopefully makes people laugh. And our guests have completely embraced it.”

So far, Anderson Liu says the promotion has generated more social media attention than any campaign in their nine-year history. Guests who download the loyalty app can win a free Crandidate T-shirt by ordering the item four times. In the opening week, they had multiple people pass the benchmark, she reports.

The marketing team went all-out with the details. On its website, a new video is posted each week from the campaign trail. The Crandidate has stared down the rigors of any tough race, from scandals to fleeting endorsements. There’s an entire backstory, complete with a step-by-step explanation of his platform.

Among the issues The Crandidate is running on: Freshness First, Diners’ Rights, Balanced Burger, Condiment Reform, and Poultry Policy. The latter point noting that, “Turkey burgers should taste as delicious as hamburgers.”

The campaign slogan, which is also emblazoned on the T-shirt and is the name of the website, states, “Yes We Cran.” And visitors are greeted with the proclamation, “Can We Make Meals Great Again? Yes We Cran!”

“We’re tying to be edgy but still in line with our family-friendly campaign and family-friendly brand. So far it’s working really well,” Anderson Liu says.

On the floor, she also says team members are having a blast with the promotion. They boast Crandidate gear, from the T-shirt to pins, and more. And most importantly, the product measures up to the message. “We wanted to make sure that we had a really delicious burger that people would actually want to eat,” she says. “People have loved it.”

By Danny Klein

Burgers, Consumer Trends, Customer Experience, Fast Casual, Marketing & Promotions, News, Mooyah