DoorDash tries to get its place in Canada’s ‘flavourhoods’

The food delivery app's first Canadian campaign puts the focus on the restaurants and communities it serves to drive awareness.
Screen Shot 2020-10-26 at 11.24.52 AM

As competition in a saturated food delivery market in Canada continues to heat up, DoorDash is trying to stand out by associating its brand with the restaurants that make consumers’ lives and communities richer.

In its first Canadian ad campaign, “Welcome to the Flavourhood,” the viewer goes on a journey of local restaurants on DoorDash in major markets. A DoorDash bike courier passes by Mandy’s Bistro in Montreal, while another passes by downtown Toronto mainstays like Kinton Ramen and Rudy. Another courier cycles by Calgary’s legendary Flipp’n Burgers, while in Vancouver, another courier is pedalling by Joey Burrard. At the end of the spot, it shows a woman picking up a bowl attached to the roof of a restaurant, and then taking a sip – to show how, with DoorDash, “every neighbourhood [is] in your hands.”

The spot looks to not only celebrate local restaurants that are staples of neighbourhoods across Canada, but also to remind Canadians that delivery and take-out supports these restaurants and the neighbourhoods they operate in.

According to Megan Towers, CSO at John St – which led the new campaign – the agency built the new DoorDash brand platform around the concept of “the power of neighbourhoods and neighbourhood restaurants” – instead of just being a convenient tool to get food delivered, it is “a portal to discover” restaurants that give one’s own community and neighbouring communities their personalities. When local restaurants are vibrant and thriving, neighbourhoods and local communities become vibrant, flourish and come to life.

Few industries have been negatively impacted by the pandemic like the restaurant and hospitality industry. After predicting national foodservice sales would surpass $100 billion this year pre-pandemic, Restaurants Canada revised its prediction in August, saying the industry will lose between $21.7 billion and $44.8 billion in annual sales this year.

Supporting local restaurants is important to DoorDash not only because they make up the core of its business, but it’s also part of the brand’s DNA. The genesis for DoorDash came in 2012, when the founders were trying to help out a small macaroon store owner in Palo Alto, Calif. In March, Tony Xu, CEO and co-founder, announced a package of commission relief and marketing support for new and existing restaurant partners, and it committed to deliver one million pounds of groceries and prepared food to local communities via United Way Worldwide.

“They’re in support of a diversity of different kinds of restaurants, and they truly believe that neighbourhoods are held together by these local businesses and that they need to be supported,” Towers says.

She adds that, since DoorDash only entered the Canadian market in 2015, brand awareness is a priority. Canadian market leader SkipTheDishes has a head start, being founded in 2013, and UberEats – which also came to Canada in 2015 – has surpassed DoorDash in terms of popularity. But while SkipTheDishes has leaned on its Canadian identity, “Welcome To The Flavourhood” is giving DoorDash a place in Canadian communities by putting the focus just as much on patronizing the actual restaurants that are on the platform.

“The hope is that it will attach to how people are feeling right now,” Towers says. “The idea is that local tastes, flavours, supporting our communities and local restaurants will resonate with people – and hopefully, that will drive preference for DoorDash over the competition.”

DoorDash is a new business win for John St., brought on to do this campaign and other brand work in Canada. Wavemaker handled the media buy for the campaign. There is paid digital and social. The spot is on national TV.