Featured case: Five Guys:
Developing a Promotional Strategy for the Future

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The case
five guys

Who – the protagonists

Jerry Murrell, Five Guys Founder and CEO.


Five Guys is the popular American fast-casual burger and fries restaurant chain, which has seen franchises open around the world in recent years.


Five Guys faced an important decision related to its future promotion strategy.

five guys

The company had always stayed away from traditional advertising media, opting instead to spend its money on food and employee bonuses.

But now a large enterprise with a sizeable promotion budget, Jerry had an opportunity to adjust and rethink the company’s promotion strategy for the future.


Five Guys started as a private venture in Arlington, Virginia, but has since gone on to expand into 1,500 locations in many Middle Eastern and European countries.


Arlington Virginia

Opening its first store in 1986, Five Guys only operated a further four stores in the Washington D.C. area until 2002, when Jerry’s sons persuaded their Dad to franchise. Rapid expansion followed.

Key quote

“My kids wanted to franchise from the start…I was dead against franchising. I didn’t think we’d be able to control the quality. That worried the heck out of me. They pulled me into it kicking and screaming.” – Jerry Murrell, Five Guys Founder and CEO.

What next?

The Five Guys promotional strategy centred on word of mouth, publicity, and social media, which was necessary in the company’s early days.

But where should Jerry allocate his company’s promotional budget now? Which promotional media should they venture into?

The authors

Fabrizio Di Muro

Fabrizio discusses the popular Five Guys brand and picking the right amount of material to use.

Appealing subject

Fabrizio said: “Five Guys was always an interesting company to me in part because it opened its first Canadian location in my hometown of Brandon, MB. They were also one of the first fast-casuals to appear in Winnipeg, and its presence represented a real shake-up of the restaurant market.

“Also, my four-year-old daughter loves it – when we’re together and my wife is at work she’ll say “Daddy, let’s go to Five Guys!” We have burgers, fries and Coke and then later she tells my wife we drank water. It’s a lot of fun!”

Familiar brandfive guys

Fabrizio continued: “Five Guys is a very popular (and thus familiar) brand, especially amongst students and young people, as the company is quite active on various social media platforms.

“Generally, the more that students are familiar with a brand, the more engaged they will be with a case that is written about the brand – students will be able to use their own personal experience with them to develop a solution, and they will enjoy working on the case that much more if they have a connection with the brand.”

Staying focused

He added: “Deciding how narrow or broad the scope should be was probably the biggest challenge – there has been such a remarkable shift in the restaurant industry with the emergence of the fast-casual market. The hardest part was probably trimming extraneous material to keep the focus on this one restaurant, because it is a topic I find really fascinating.”

A wealth of material

Fabrizio concluded: “There have been quite a lot of interesting and in-depth articles written about the brand and I wanted people to be able to find out more from the sources I cited.”

About the authors

Fabrizio Di Muro is an Assistant Professor of Business and Administration at the University of Winnipeg.
e F.DiMuro@uwinnipeg.ca

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Five Guys: Developing a Promotional Strategy for the Future
Ref 9B19A017

Teaching note
Ref 8B19A017


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