Guerilla Marketing for Operators: Campaign Ideas Odds & Ends
Today we’re going to talk about a few different other types of guerilla marketing, including the infamous publicity stunt. It’s been a long week, and I don’t have anything clever to say in this introduction. Let’s just start, shall we?
CAMPAIGN IDEAS: ODDS & ENDS EDITION
I’m talking about eating challenges, people. Remember that part in Uncle Buck where John Candy eats that entire steak? Like that. Here are a couple of local examples off the top of my head:
- Right down the street from me, we have a place called Colonial Cafe. They have an ice cream sundae that they call The Kitchen Sink, which comes served in a small kitchen sink and has a ton of ice cream in it. If you eat the whole thing, they give you a bumper sticker that says “I ate a Colonial Cafe Kitchen Sink.” And you know what? People around here actually put those bumper stickers on their cars. You see them all over the place. It’s like a street gang, only with more SUVs, mini vans and ice cream and less street gang stuff.
- There’s a Greek diner place called Omega that we used to hang out at. They’re open 24 hours, so it was a popular place to hit up after punk rock shows ended but before calling it a night. They have a pretty good Belgian waffle, and they also have quite possibly the raddest-named ice cream dish ever: The Surprise Zombie. Seriously, that’s it’s name. It’s like an ice cream soda-type deal, only absolutely gargantuan. And I’ve seen multiple people get theirs for free by finishing the whole thing. My friend Nick finished his in under four minutes. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen this side of child birth, but the waitresses were so impressed they totally posed for pictures with him. It was awesome.
If you want to go this route, feel free to be creative in the type of dish you offer. You don’t have to limit it to frozen delights or disgusting amounts of meat.
Along the same lines, how about hosting an eating competition? Or some kind of relevant cook-off? I mean, seriously: where are all the meatball sandwich-eating contests?
Did I mention that there’s a dessert called the Surprise Zombie? There’s another pancake place that had a dish called the Dusty Miller. Now Google tells me that a Dusty Miller is a type of flower, which is a little disappointing seeing as we were all operating under the assumption that it was some old dude, but still. Or how about Kuma’s, who we mentioned before? All of their sandwiches are named after heavy metal bands. Example: their pulled pork sandwich is called the Pig Destroyer. Which is seriously the greatest name for a sandwich ever.
Anyways, interesting/awesome names for your menu items can be good for building word of mouth. I haven’t eaten at Omega in probably seven years at this point, but you better believe that we still tell stories about the Surprise Zombie. I’ll remember that until I die. That being said, if you have wacky names for things, you better be able to back it up with quality. You don’t want to find yourself being the restaurant equivalent of a novelty record.
So there’s this hot dog place in the city (“city” being Chicago; I live in the far western burbs) called Hot Doug’s. Now, you might know my position on hot dogs: they’re an abomination. Which, coming from the hot dog town of the entire world is sort of a bold (and brave!) thing to say. I do, however, like sausage. Not Polish sausage, which is another Chicago thing, but Italian sausage, and Hot Doug’s has a good Italian sausage. They also have french fries that they cook in duck fat. They’re sort of like regular fries, only they’re so rich you just want to curl up and sleep for a week.
The reason I mention them is because Hot Doug’s offers free food for life for people who get their logo tattooed on themselves. Which is totally insane! It’s definitely generated a tremendous amount of publicity for them in the local press, not to mention the word of mouth amongst those in the know.
YE OLDE PUBLICITY STUNT
And then there’s the publicity stunt. Now, publicity stunts don’t have to be the crazy insanity that leads to bomb scares, like the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla marketing campaign from 2007. For instance: did you know that the Tour de France was a publicity stunt? It was originally staged to sell more newspapers. And here we are over a hundred years later, using it as a guerilla marketing example in a blog post. Not too shabby.
Now there’s a huge range of publicity stunts out there. Remember when Taco Bell said they bought the Liberty Bell? Or how about when Burger King said they discontinued the Whopper? Or that time when Burger King (again) pretended that they had made a left-handed Whopper, until some people actually tried to order it? Or when Starbucks closed all of their stores for 3.5 hours because they said that they were training their baristas in the ways of espresso?
If you’re going to rock a publicity stunt, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure it makes sense and relates to your operation.
- Don’t be clever for cleverness’ sake.
- Don’t have the potential spectacle overshadow the goal: driving business. You want people to remember you, not the event itself.
- Get permission if it involves doing something crazy in a public place. Or posting stuff in a public place.
- Barring obtaining permission, be prepared to accept the consequences.
- THINK IT THROUGH. Seriously, look at it from every angle possible. Is there any way that your idea can be taken the wrong way? Then DON’T DO IT.
Okay, this is a specific publicity stunt, but I wanted to call it out because there aren’t enough restaurants trying to get crazy and totally awesome world records. Come on, folks. The Guiness people give out so many insane records every year, you have to be able to come up with something stupid that nobody else has done.
YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH, YOU’VE GOT THE POWER
After all is said and done you’ve never walked, you’ve never run! You’re a winner!
Animated Transformers movie aside, that’s going to wrap it up for this week. Enjoy your holiday weekend everyone, and come back next week when we’ll be finishing up our discussion on guerilla marketing for operators! Until then, contact the friendly folks at Vanee Foods for more ideas on kick starting your guerilla marketing campaign. After all, they’ve got the moves, they know the streets. Break the rules, take the heat. They’re nobody’s fools!
Sorry, that was Transformers again.