The cohort of subscription box brands initiated its newest member last week when Arby’s released a monthly subscription box containing mysterious branded goods. While subscription services have seen varying levels of success, Arby’s newest campaign achieved instant popularity, selling out of boxes within the hour.

Arby’s isn’t the only restaurant to benefit from branded merch. The subscription campaign follows the release of a fried chicken-themed streetwear collection from KFC and a Cyber Monday-exclusive apparel line from Chili’s.

Just as other verticals benefit from co-branded content on social media, restaurant investment in partnerships appears to benefit social presence. The KFC collection, a collaboration with Japanese fashion designer and influencer Nigo, attracted 9,900 interactions on Instagram. Similarly, the Chili’s collection significantly boosted social engagement, according to Gartner L2’s Restaurants US: Social Targeting and Conversion report. The line was associated with the brand’s highest-performing Twitter hashtag of the year, #SkilletQueso, which accrued more than 4,800 interactions. 

However, there are some things to learn from comparing the restaurants’ results. While both Arby’s and Chili’s sold out of their merch lines, Chili’s microsite garnered more than double the traffic on day one of its campaign (the only day of the campaign) compared to Arby’s, grossing more attention overall. Small inventory may explain Arby’s quick sale, but more important than sales is the restaurant signaling the desire to build brand recognition in the form of buzzy merch. Arby’s has stated that it will refresh inventory and that potential buyers should follow updates on the microsite, potentially sustaining traffic to site despite having no inventory.  

Experimenting with different content and PR strategies is not new for Arby’s. The restaurant created its “We Have the Meats” slogan in 2014 to lure attention from a younger audience that executives believed was slipping away. Furthermore, Arby’s is a leader in Gartner L2’s report for its ability to target communities on social platforms. The brand’s interaction count on Facebook dwarfs the competition, the result of targeted spend that boosts the visibility of video game and anime content across Arby’s enthusiastic community.

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