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August 8, 2020

I just want to give you a quick snapshot of some of the marketing that caught my eye when this whole Covid mess started. The beginning of the Covid pandemic was an interesting time for restaurants, even for marketing as a whole. The road was narrow, off one side was the cliff of "doing too much and seeming out of touch" and on the other side was a deep lake of "don't do anything and die".

As we scrambled to adjust to restrictions and regulations, the panic in the air was palpable. Some local restaurants around me couldn’t adjust and shut down all together (as of writing this in June 2020 I’m seeing a ton of owner turnover and under-the-radar deals happening - places selling without advertising they’re selling… I’ll dive into that another time tho). What I found most interesting was how some of the more intelligent brands used the opportunity to create and build brand equity. A lot of them seemingly gave away their most valuable asset: their ingredients and recipes, in exchange for forming and solidifying deeper bonds with their customers.! 

Waffle House (personal favorite brand) sold its waffle mix along with the recipe. (sold out in 4 hours btw) 

Mc Donalds posted their sausage egg and cheese recipe…  (ok, that’s kinda…. A little more effort wouldn’t have hurt anyone on this one) but you can never go wrong recognizing WHERE (home) your audience is and WHAT (cooking) they're doing.

And Disney went all out and put an incredibly detailed recipe and accompanying video about how to make these awesome looking cookie fries (amongst other recipes!)

I really want to highlight the thinking behind these "giveaways" and I think this is going to pay dividends for these brands down the road.

At a time when a lot of brands are trying to be seen as the most careful brand, the safest brand, the cleanest or most virtuous brand (all good things but all things that should go without saying anyway), these brands had the thoughtfulness to know  that what their audience would respond to,  in that moment, was generosity and kindness. Years down the line when that mom who helped her kids make a sausage egg and cheese drives past a McDonalds I’ll bet that memory comes back to her - or I’ll bet that kid that eats those Waffles, even if he’s never had Waffle House before, will remember that moment fondly and there that brand will be… Waffle House (best brand ever).

Three things I want to pull from this that I think apply to all brands. 

  1. You can never give too much, but you don’t have to give a lot to touch your customers
  2. If you can, give a memory.
  3. Kind brands always win.

Thanks for reading. Have a thought about it or want to chat? Connect with me on Linkedin.


Hey, I'm Jeff

I help ambitious restaurant groups craft and grow powerful brands using creative strategies and meaningful design.

Pt 1: Brand Strategy and Positioning


Choosing the Right Platform for Your Restaurant's Website

Getting Online

What Should Be On Your Restaurant's Website? A Checklist

Getting Online

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