Shopper Innovation Awards: Jack Astor’s hires a potato salad pro

The restaurant jumped on board a Kickstarter phenomenon to bring a viral star to Canada.

This story appears in the May 2015 issue of strategy.Jack Astor's 1

Gold: Small Budget, Big Impact

Many of Jack Astor’s competitors have recently started using humour in their messaging as a way to connect with consumers. The restaurant, which has a reputation for creating playful advertising, needed to gain back its footing in the “humour battle.”

So it decided to launch various real-time executions (across multiple touchpoints, such as in-store, social media and on the street) that would not only tickle Canadians’ funny bones, but also make the brand more culturally relevant.

The restaurant and its agency Zulu Alpha Kilo created a task force of dedicated creatives who would scour news and events headlines to find ways to insert the brand in a contextual, cultural way.

When news broke of Zack “Danger” Brown’s Kickstarter project that would fundraise $52,000 to create a simple potato salad, the team at Zulu Alpha Kilo saw an opportunity for Jack Astor’s to jump on the trending phenomenon.

They quickly arranged to help Brown develop his recipe in Canada and flew him north of the border to work directly with the restaurant’s executive chef. A launch event was held on the evening of his arrival, where Brown showcased his much-anticipated potato-salad recipe. It also provided Canadians who invested in his Kickstarter campaign the opportunity to taste the potato salad for themselves and mingle with the infamous “Potato Salad Guy.”

With a PR budget of only $8,000, Jack Astor’s garnered over 80 pieces of media coverage, generating more than 32 million earned impressions across Canada and the U.S., including national news coverage in the Toronto Star, Huffington Post and CTV News. In addition, the program reached more than 522,000 people on Facebook and Twitter.


Advertiser: Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill
Client team: Lauren Michell, Somer Mullins, AnneMarie Selvaggio, Jason Cassidy
Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
CCO: Zak Mroueh
ECD: Shane Ogilvie
ADs: Shawn James, Alex Lacroix
CW: Tyler Copoc
Photographer/ videographer: Brought To You By
Account team: Robyn Crookshank, Sarah Phillips
Account executive: Devina Hardatt
Strategic planner: Ebrahim El Kalza
Digital strategist: Emma Brooks