Burgerville is the oldest and most revered quick service restaurant chain in the Pacific Northwest. Founded more than 60 years ago, Burgerville was a quaint, family business that lived by a core set of values. When a new management team arrived, Burgerville sought to create a new model for the quick service restaurant industry. It wished to “change the way business does business” by committing to locally grown ingredients, sustainable business practices and menu innovation. In turn, Burgerville believed this would both sustain local communities and attract a new generation of customers.
The Pacific Northwest community has distinct values and we sought to create an emotional connection between Burgerville, its traditional customer base and the desired younger demographic. Our communications program strategically featured Burgerville’s company values over its menu. This contra direction tapped directly into the area’s emotional connection to locally grown foods, the move to sustainable business practices and Burgerville’s local community ecosystem. It also educated the national audience on new practices in an unlikely industry as Burgerville contemplated expansion plans. Finally, the program enabled the food to be seen in a different context than the traditional menu fare served by the competition.
Burgerville’s core values were different so we wove in other non-traditional elements designed to elevate the company above the standard industry noise. Whenever an opportunity to “do business differently” presented itself, we capitalized. Examples? When a Burgerville customer was prevented from riding a bicycle through the drive-thru lane and complained on Twitter, our team responded within an hour and counseled Burgerville to become the nation’s first quick service restaurant to offer a “bike-thru” lane. The approach was immediately embraced by the bike-friendly Pacific Northwest, and the customer is still a fan. When Burgerville wanted to add beer and wine to its menu, we suggested a sommelier be utilized to pair Pacific Northwest wines with local, fresh ingredients and begin to shift attention back to the menu in a new way.
The strategy used multiple communications channels to speak to Burgerville’s diverse audiences. Social media profiles were created and used extensively in conjunction with traditional media and community/event outreach. The approach encouraged 1:1 engagement and conversations with younger customers while the traditional media and events served the older core demographic.
- Increased overall sales
- Increased sales from the 18-35 demographic
- Increased business ecosystem opportunities
- Direct and emotional connection with customer base
- Opportunities for partnerships with city governments to support local communities
- National thought leadership on sustainability, sustainable business practices and restaurant industry innovation
- Grew social media community organically to more than 30,000 fans in two years through creative campaigns and contests