Swiss Chalet keeps pandemic-friendly meals festive

With high trust, a new app and a legacy in delivery, the restaurant has been showing families that they can stay connected.

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By Surina Nath

For over 30 years, the Festive Special has been Swiss Chalet’s biggest annual promotion event. And the restaurant’s new holiday campaign highlights how it doesn’t plan on this year being any less special for guests.

In a new commercial that launched on Nov. 1, a family heads out to a special holiday dinner with grandparents – but at the restaurant, they are connecting with grandparents over a video call as they eat their own Festive Special that has been delivered to their home. The target for this campaign is millennial families, a deliberate attempt to bring a slightly younger demographic into a client base that has typically skewed a little older.

“The exact execution we chose was bringing your family back together in a moment of reprieve through the gift of Swiss Chalet’s Festive Special,” says Ally Tosello, senior director of marketing at Swiss Chalet. “You don’t have to miss out on the Festive Special if you’re not ready to come back into a restaurant, because we can bring festive special to you.”

When Swiss Chalet asked consumers about where they would eat beyond the home, established chains were the first choice over local independents, and Tosello says there’s an opportunity for the company to tap into that trust. Insights also showed that family members wanted to deliver to grandparents who love the brand but weren’t comfortable sitting in restaurants, highlighting multiple channels to enjoy Swiss Chalet. The brand has offered take-out and delivery for over 40 years, giving it even more reason to be trusted during moments of uncertainty, with so many competitors entering delivery and take-out for the first time.

The brand has adapted its marketing approach knowing the audience has had a trying year, re-igniting emotional connections with consumers while creating a feeling of togetherness and brand loyalty. Tosello explains that community integration and omnichannel strengths were key themes over the last six months, focusing on delivering to retirement homes, simplifying menu offerings for quicker service, and introducing curb side pick-up while improving technology demands as the year progressed.

Connection also played a large role in updates Swiss Chalet made to its app last Wednesday. In addition to a coupon wallet, it features a gifting program that allows people to send meals to friends “like they would a flower delivery,” Tosello says, complete with a customized note.

Tosello notes that the relaunch was well-timed around the holidays, where gifting is amplified, and also during a pandemic where people are at home ordering delivery more.

Tosello estimates that there was 5 to 10% increase in production budget compared to previous holiday campaigns, mostly related to addressing necessary COVID protocols. The family in the ad is sat far away from anyone else, and all the servers in the video are seen wearing masks. Upstream, the brand’s AOR, also shot alternative versions of the commercial, in case lockdown restrictions changed and the campaign needed to be adjusted.

The spot will be airing on TV and online video platforms for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, in addition to organic promotion through Swiss Chalet’s social channels.