Shopper Innovation Awards: Earls celebrates messy lobsters

The restaurant chain takes the pretentiousness out of eating the dish, winning a Bronze this year.

Bronze: Small budget, big impact

Earls Restaurants is a family-run company with an annual fall Lobster Event. But over the years, the event began to lose its lustre and ability to drive sales. So for 2012, the brand refreshed its marketing with the “Worth the Work” campaign, giving consumers permission to get messy while eating lobster.

Those who typically attend the event are regular Earls customers, so marketing was focused inside the restaurant to encourage them to spread the word.

The creative featured an iconic lobster image with humorous headlines celebrating all the ways to get hands-on when eating a messy lobster. The campaign used in-store posters and social channels to create awareness among loyal customers and oversized wet wipes were handed out prior to the event to encourage pre-event lobster dinner sales.

When consumers attended the event they were given all the fixings to get messy with their dinner, which included a lobster cracker, tin cans for empty shells, bibs to catch the mess and napkins for buttery fingers.

The resulting program was the most successful in over a decade with all sales goals exceeded. Despite a budget decrease of 50%, Earls sold more lobsters than ever before, with sales increasing by 17%. Same-store sales grew by another 1% over the promotional period.


Brand: Earl’s Restaurants
Agency: Leo Burnett
Chief creative officer: Judy John
Creative director: Lisa Greenberg
Group creative directors: Sam Cerullo, Chris Taciuk
Copywriters: Kevin Hoessler, Kelly Zettel
Art directors: Sam Cerullo, Scott Leder, Pearce Cacalda
Designers: Scott Leder, Sam Cerullo, Pearce Cacalda
Illustrator: Nabil Elsaadi
Agency producers: Laurie Filgiano, Bernice Banigan
Account executive: Angelica Bennett
Account supervisor: Jeremy Farncomb
Group account directors: Allison Ballantyne, David Kennedy
Planner: Brent Nelson
Photographer: Jim Norton