Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom had all eyes on the success of its new Chapel Hill, North Carolina, location. The new spot marked the first restaurant to be built from the ground-up since the company introduced its expansive branding revamp. It also marked the first restaurant in the Carolinas and represented the start of Old Chicago’s nationwide growth strategy, particularly targeting the Southeast. Old Chicago tapped Largemouth Communications to strategically introduce its new brand into the Chapel Hill market and surrounding areas in order to make connections with the local community and position its brand as a great place to gather with friends over pizza, salads and shareable appetizers made with fresh, quality ingredients and served with a wide selection of craft beers.
With new restaurants frequently opening in the greater Chapel Hill area, Largemouth developed a strategic media outreach plan and grand opening event strategy that would not only connect with potential local guests, including University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) students, but also engage local media. Largemouth drew connections to 1976, the year the first Old Chicago opened, to position the restaurant as an established brand coming into the Carolinas for the first time. The first 76 guests to arrive for the grand-opening events received free pizza for a year. This was designed to establish a connection with UNC-Chapel Hill students as well as build a buzz around and draw a crowd to the events. Additionally, Old Chicago and Largemouth invited UNC Chapel Hill intramural basketball players and local news anchors to participate in a charity basketball free-throw event. For every free throw that made it into the basket, Old Chicago would donate $76 to Farmer Foodshare, a nonprofit group connecting hungry families with local farming communities. The relationship with Farmer Foodshare helped establish Old Chicago as an engaged community partner and the cause aligned with the brand’s track record of supporting organizations that fight hunger. The grand opening finished with a pizza dough “ribbon” cutting with the mayor of Chapel Hill and members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Largemouth secured coverage in all targeted local media outlets with more than 25 quality media segments, reaching more than 5.4 million media impressions. Executives shared Old Chicago’s vision for its brand and the Chapel Hill location during interviews with the largest regional business weekly paper and the Triangle area’s major daily newspaper. UNC-Chapel Hill students camped out to secure their spot for free pizza for a year, resulting in the student newspaper headline, “Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom promotion draws campers,” and the largest lunch crowd the restaurant had seen to date. News anchors at two local broadcast stations, WNCN’s Sean Maroney and ABC 11’s Diane Wilson, covered the grand opening and engaged with Old Chicago in the charity free-throw contest. This resulted in authentic coverage, extending from their nightly news segments to their personal social media pages. The strategy was also successful in building relationships between Old Chicago and local politicians, business leaders and media, as well as generating energy in the community that has kept guests returning to the restaurant.
5.4 million media impressions
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Sean Maroney, Anchor | WNCN-TV
"Largemouth did a great job putting all of this together. It’s always great seeing the Chapel Hill community coming together for a good cause. ”