Whataburger – Holiday Retail & Competitive Analysis

Beyond Whataburger’s menu of bold flavors and extraordinary hospitality, the Texas burger icon is known for serving up merchandise to its passionate fans. Hahn was tasked with launching Whataburger’s latest holiday retail line to drive transactions on Whatastore.com, the brand’s online retail store. Items included creative and uniquely branded holiday sweaters, winter accessories, ornaments and other collectable merchandise.

A holiday PR campaign was executed with an earlier messaging start than most in the industry—including 75 mentions and 16M reach during the second week of November alone. Efforts included a national satellite media tour of 25 interviews with a Whataburger retail spokesperson sharing insight on the collection, strategic product seeding for influential media, and four systemwide media pitches highlighting the retail line’s debut and seasonal promotions.


The Challenge

Whataburger has always received media attention for its holiday collection and its entire retail line since its launch in 2014. The brand wanted to take a snapshot of earned media impact and understand how well its own coverage fared against competitors.

The Solution

Hahn’s advanced team of marketing and research experts and senior data analysts performed an in-depth study of all holiday merchandise media coverage for Whataburger and nine top competitors over a two-month period. Considering the offerings and footprint of each QSR, Hahn collected and analyzed relevant coverage, general quantitative competitor information, created formulaic queries, calculated metrics and evaluated data to create a distilled report and implications for future similar initiatives.

The Results

  • Despite only having 1.7% of the restaurant locations nationally, Whataburger accounted for 31% of the mentions and 45% of the unique headlines relating to QSR holiday merch during this time period.
  • Not only did Whataburger obtain a large share of voice, but its share of voice was mostly distributed within Whataburger’s 14-state footprint. The brand also obtained the most mentions, reach, outlets and headlines won.
  • Despite having fewer stores than any other competitor in this region, Whataburger managed to get half of the impression share for media outlets.
  • Whataburger PR generated double the variety of headlines than that of its second-place competitor.
  • Many of the headlines, including four of the top five by reach, mention Whataburger directly.