This is What Happens When You Have a Great Food Story
In the PR world the saying goes, “You’re only as good as your last story.” But, as food marketers we know good stories don’t just happen. They’re carefully curated to encourage a specific response. So, who is catching your attention with powerful food storytelling right now? Below are just a few of EHY’s favorites from across the food industry right now.
Domino’s Repaves America
As shocking as it may be, Domino’s is fixing potholes and repairing roads across America for the sake of avoiding “irreversible damage” to their pizzas during delivery. To launch this campaign the company approached Athens, Georgia; Bartonville, Texas; Milford, Delaware; and Burbank, California offering each city a grant of $5,000 to repair their potholes. In exchange, the city would carry out the repairs, allow photos and videos to be taken on site, and stencil a Domino’s logo with the tagline “Oh yes we did” on all repaired potholes. According to a local publication in Milford, just two days after launching the campaign, Domino’s food story has garnered 100,000 website visits, 31,000 zip code requests from all 50 states, 700 media stories, 100,000 twitter mentions, and 88,000 views of the ad on YouTube.
For a mere $20,000, Domino’s secured millions of earned media impressions with this one-of-a-kind food PR stunt and accompanying national advertising campaign. The company will continue repairing potholes in 17 new cities this fall. They will spend roughly $100,000 on road repairs while gaining a priceless amount of exposure along the way.
Arby’s Makes a Big Announcement
Arby’s had consumers sitting on the edge of their seats when they began teasing a “big announcement” through the world’s smallest advertisement – wording on a minuscule sesame seed, typically found on their sandwich buns. After much anticipation, the company revealed the sesame seed to read, “A big announcement is coming. This isn’t it.” One week later, Arby’s shared their big news by creating the world’s largest advertisement in America’s smallest city, Monowi, Nebraska (population of 1). Through a poster ad spreading almost five acres wide, Arby’s announced their partnership with Coca-Cola. Monowi’s lone resident is shown standing in the middle of the poster to give perspective.
While Arby’s didn’t have breaking news to share, their execution strategies of mystery, anticipation, and shock kept consumers highly engaged during the campaign and generated millions of earned media in response. Their Facebook announcement alone garnered over 7.5 thousand likes and 651 thousand views.
The sesame seed with the world’s smallest advertisement is now displayed in Arby’s restaurant in Manhattan. It can be viewed under a microscope.
Barnum’s Animal Crackers Frees the Animals
Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animal Crackers have made recent headlines with their new package design featuring cage-free animals roaming the African Sahara. You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Brands change their packaging all the time!” The story behind this iconic brand’s package change is what has consumers buzzing. As a 116-year-old product, the original packaging featured the animals inside circus cages referencing the historically famous Barnum & Bailey Circus. Over 100 years later, animal rights activists from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) began a petition pushing Nabisco to redesign their packaging so it does not promote the mistreatment of animals. In response, Nabisco’s parent company, Mondelez, agreed with PETA. They saw an opportunity to keep the brand fresh and relevant with today’s consumers. With a simple but impactful new package design they have taken a stance against caging and chaining exotic animals for entertainment.
This food story has already received prominent attention from The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post. And, it continues to build word of mouth momentum among consumers. Even for a brand that is now over 116-years-old, the story of this new package design, reinforced by PETA, has reminded consumers their favorite childhood crackers are still available at their local grocery stores. And, of course, available online as well.
IHOP Is More Than Breakfast
IHOP stunned consumers when they announced they were changing their name to IHOb (International House of Burgers). A move made to promote the diner as a lunch and dinner spot rather than just a place for breakfast. The brand announced the temporary name change via social media and it instantly went viral. Consumers wondered if the company was actually changing their name and guessing what the new “b” stood for. Over an 8-week period this food PR stunt secured more than 20,000 stories, reached 4 billion people across social media, and generated 36 billion earned media impressions.
Stephen Joyce, CEO of IHOP’s parent company Dine Brands Global, officially announced the campaign a success in their recent earnings call. He says the chain “saw a significant lift in both sales and traffic.” Specifically, the chain saw increases during lunch and dinner hours following the launch of this campaign. On top of the impressive sales results, the chain has revived its share-of-voice. After several years of declining relevancy, IHOP is now top of mind for millions of consumers nationwide. With these kinds of results their new and improved burger menu is here to stay.
A Great Food PR Strategy Can Move Mountains
In a time when relevancy wins the race, it’s a safe bet to invest in authentic storytelling and content marketing to get the job done. So, what food stories are you telling your consumers? How are you inserting your brand into conversations happening out there? If you’re not, it’s never too late to gather your teams. Start sharing stories with each other about what makes your brand so unique, engaging, and of-the-moment. After all, if cauliflower can have a moment, so can you!