CASSIES Bronze: BP’s wacky rib campaign nets serious results

From an unbranded Rib Stain Camo to the Ribnecks characters, Boston Pizza saw an ROI of 124%.

BPclip1Events, Seasonal & Short-Term

Situation Analysis: Since 2011, Boston Pizza had been targeting Dads with its “Dad’s Happy Place” positioning via messaging, improved menu items and new product innovations. By 2013, the strategy had driven nine quarters of consecutive same store sales growth. How could this momentum be continued when all the menu best-sellers had been revamped?

Boston Pizza targeted a previous area of menu weakness – ribs. However, guests ranked ribs last among the foods Boston Pizza did best while Boston Pizza also ranked far behind its competition in every major Canadian region on the measure of offering “high-quality” ribs. By the summer of 2013, Boston Pizza had improved its ribs but, with a mediocre reputation and limited consumer awareness, the brand could not rely on small points of difference to change minds and boost sales.

Insight & Strategy: Boston Pizza wanted to avoid becoming just another voice in the “biggest, best, meatiest, sauciest, longest-marinated ribs in town” shouting match. However, research showed there was no authoritative rib chain; rib eaters were endlessly looking for guidance on the perfect rib but dads had no true authoritative voice to turn to. Boston Pizza targeted that leadership position.

Execution: Stage one, launched in June 2013, was an unbranded 60-second infomercial teaser campaign featuring non-traditional spokespeople – The Ribnecks, a group of rib-lovers from the Deep South. Key to the infomercial was Rib Stain Camo, purportedly invented by one of the Ribnecks, a T-shirt with a rib sauce splatter pattern available for purchase from The infomercial was also promoted online via digital banners, PR video seeding, blogger outreach, promoted tweets and trends on Twitter that targeted rib enthusiasts, food lovers, and the dad target.

Stage two, launched one week later, featured 15-second and 30-second branded TV spots with creative being updated after a further week connecting Rib Stain Camo with Boston Pizza. Digital banners and a landing page on ran concurrently with the TV spot and included ribs messaging that worked to drive awareness and online rib orders. Facebook and Twitter accounts were also created for Rib Stain Camo, quickly followed by franchisees received POS kits.

Results: Total rib sales shot up 56% versus the same period in 2012, led by Boston Pizza’s half rack of ribs, which rose to become the restaurant’s most popular entrée dish. Sticky Ribs – a Boston Pizza appetizer – was the second-highest seller while Boston Pizza’s full rack of ribs was the fourth most-popular item. With net incremental revenues of over $5 million and a marketing return on investment of 124%, Boston Pizza’s ribs campaign was a resounding success.

Cause & Effect: Although media spend from June to August was higher in 2013 than the same time period in 2012, there was no significant price discounting throughout the course of the campaign. Rib Stain Camo generated more than 230,000 online impressions within 24 hours and, by the end of the ribs campaign, over 7.5 million impressions had been created, of which more than 600,000 were earned media impressions. The Rib Stain Camo spot was the sixth-most-viewed ad in Canada on YouTube in June 2013 while, over the course of Boston Pizza’s ribs campaign, Twitter delivered over 26 million impressions and 58,000 interactions

Client: Boston Pizza International
EVP marketing: Steve Silverstone
VP marketing: Alexander Green
Marketing manager: Andrew Borsk
Associate marketing manager: Brenda Smith
Agency: Taxi
ECD: Darren Clarke
CD: Niall Kelly
AD: Scott Johnson
CW: Chris Duffett
Group account director: Edith Rosa
Account director: Tamara Gervais
Account manager: Melanie Abbott
Producer: Megan Flett
Sr. designers: Brooke Hennessey, Yuko Brown
Digital producer: Sonja Vreugdenburg
Production designer: Brittany Anderson
Developer: Mason Braun
Retouchers: Andrew O’Driscoll, Esther Sanchez
Director, digital strategy: Sean McDonald
Print producer: Sharon Govang
Mac artist: Arthur Oskan
Proofreaders: Linda Matassa, Berna Ozunal, Kelly Lamorie
Media agency: PHD
PR agency: Highroad Communications
Film studio: Touchpoint Films
Director: Brad Dworkin
Executive producer: Kevin Saffer
Director of photography: Rob Scarborough
Editing house: Posterboy Edit
Editor: Raj Ramnauth
Executive producer: Michelle Rich
Online:Crush Inc. (now Smith)
Audio: Cylinder Sound & Film
CD: Hamish McEwan
Executive producer: Brad Nelson