Shopper Innovation Awards: Earls customers get meat redemption

The chain targets patrons of other restaurants who've had a disappointing steak experience to win Silver.

Silver: Original Idea

Earls is a 30-year-old Canadian casual upscale restaurant chain that had become a little tired in the eyes of the consumer and lacked distinctiveness in its advertising.

For most consumers, going out to eat steak at a restaurant is not a regular experience, however when they do, it’s important that it’s done right. Through research, the brand and agency Leo Burnett learned consumers are reluctant to risk steak satisfaction by visiting a non-steakhouse restaurant.

So the brand decided to remove the fear of a disappointing steak experience. It invited people who had ordered an unsatisfactory steak at another restaurant to come to “The Steak Redemption Event” for a complimentary steak done right.

Earls reached out to those who had given disappointing reviews via social media and personally invited them to the restaurant for redemption. Customers received personalized invitation cards along with a steak redemption knife as a keepsake, and the event was filmed and posted to YouTube. Ads featured carefully-crafted seals and weather-treated backgrounds signalling Earls’ dedication to quality and detail.

In markets where mass media was used, steak sales were up 88% versus the previous year, while total sales increased 15% and customer visits were up 7.8%. And in markets where only in-restaurant materials were implemented, steak sales were up 60%. Consumer feedback showed they changed their minds about Earls and the meat it serves, resulting in a post-campaign steak sales increase of 8.61% nationally.


Brand: Earl’s Restaurants
Agency: Leo Burnett
Chief creative officer: Judy John
Creative director: Lisa Greenberg
Group creative directors: Sam Cerullo, Chris Taciuk
Copywriter: Frank Macera, Kelly Zettel
AD: Jonathan Guy, Oliver Brooks
Designer: Jonathan Guy
Director: Sean McBride (The Public Assembly)
Agency produce:r Angy Loftus
Print producer: Lorenda Bennett
Account executive: Angelica Bennett
Group account director: Allison Ballantyne
SVP, account mgt group head: David Kennedy
Planner: Dustin Rideout
Digital project manager: Cimmeron Kirk