Corner Bakery Cafe heats up brand with volunteer initiative

Corner Bakery Cafe is not only a restaurant with 115 locations nationwide, but it also provides catering services, a part of its business the company wanted to promote and build upon.

PR Team: Corner Bakery Cafe (Dallas) and Cohn & Wolfe (Austin, TX)

Campaign: Catering to our Community

Duration: March 12-April 24, 2009

Budget: $46,000

Corner Bakery Cafe is not only a restaurant with 115 locations nationwide, but it also provides catering services, a part of its business the company wanted to promote and build upon. In addition, the company was inspired by then newly inaugurated President Barack Obama's emphasis on volunteerism.

“We've always been a part of the communities we operate in,” says Diana Hovey, SVP of marketing at Corner Bakery. “Catering is also important. We wanted to find a way to give back to people who were giving so much of their time. Our cafe guests are affiliated with a lot of these [nonprofit] organizations.”

Corner Bakery worked with its AOR, Cohn & Wolfe, on a campaign that would blend its business objectives with community service.

Strategy

Corner Bakery and C&W created a month-long initiative that began with a high-profile launch event and ended with a contest that awarded more than 100 organizations nationwide free catering services. The effort leveraged social media, a relatively new outreach tactic for Corner Bakery, and partnerships with nonprofit organizations to generate buzz and participation.

“We thought it made no better sense to engage the community than to go out to the community organizations that are so important to their neighborhoods,” says Julia McQueen, a senior account supervisor and the lead on the account for C&W.

Tactics

On March 12, Corner Bakery employees nationwide delivered free meals to more than 850 volunteers and charitable workers. The PR team launched the campaign microsite, www.CateringToOurcommunity.com, the same day.

Throughout the following weeks, C&W conducted outreach to trade publications, traditional media, blogs, community message boards, and on social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

Corner Bakery only launched its own Web site about a year ago, so the interactive nature of this campaign took its online engagement to the next level, Hovey notes. The company didn't have its own presence on Facebook or Twitter (it just recently joined Twitter and will have a Facebook page in July), but generated awareness about the campaign among organizations on those channels.

Results

Corner Bakery received nearly 1,000 entries for its catering contest. Also, the campaign received media coverage of the kick-off event from the Dallas CBS broadcast affiliate, as well as Nation's Restaurant News, USAToday.com, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, among other outlets.

Although the company didn't disclose any sales figures, Hovey says, there has been “heightened awareness” of the catering business and an increase in first-time use of its catering services.

There was an unexpected internal impact as well.

“[Employees] love the idea of going out and doing deliveries and meeting the organizations,” Hovey says. “As we plan future efforts, employees are already on board.”

Future

Corner Bakery will continue to work with C&W on social media outreach and other community service-oriented campaigns.

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