Stella Artois sends love letters to restaurants

Who: Stella Artois with DraftLine for creative, Vizeum for media and Veritas for PR.

What: An advertising-based extension of the beer brand’s year-long “Rally for Restaurants” program, “Love Artois,” that turned people’s positive reviews of their favourite restaurant into ads.

When & Where: Out-of-home ads ran in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal until May 9, with social running until this weekend (May 23).

Why: Stella Artois launched “Rally for Restaurants,” in Canada during the pandemic’s early days. It started as a gift card initiative, a way to inject revenue directly into the many businesses hit hard early in the crisis. But Stella Artois has found a handful of different ways to activate the program across Canada in the last year (like this, this and this).

“We see the support of restaurants and our broader business goals as one in the same,” said Mike Bascom, marketing director for Stella Artois at Labatt Breweries of Canada. “Our on-premise relationships and sales are a huge part of our business model, and without our loved local restaurants, Stella Artois in Canada wouldn’t be what is it today.”

The latest iteration was about sharing positive messages about beloved bars and restaurants on social media, and turning those messages into paid advertising.

How: Consumers can visit the Stella Artois site to write their feel-good review of their establishment of choice. That note is then inserted into a stylized “love letter” featuring a Stella Artois illustration that can be shared through social channels. Aside from visiting the site, people could also simply post a review using the #LoveArtois hashtag. Stella Artois chose some of the love letters to run as paid ads.

“Our goal is to invite Canadians to put their feelings into words, showing our favourite local spots just how much we appreciate them and miss dining in person,” said Bascom.

By late last week, they had more than 1,000 love letters mentioning #LoveArtois, and had spotlighted more than 50 restaurants in OOH ads.

Why outdoors when we’re supposed to be staying indoors: “We wanted to highlight restaurants in-person, and in a way, put them on a pedestal,” said Bascom. “OOH was the avenue to do that… The hospitality industry needs our help more than ever, so the OOH space is one way we can give back to our communities and spread the love in a big way.”

And we quote: “We want to see restaurants open their doors just as much as Canadians do, and we want to support them as much as we can along the way. Focusing our marketing dollars to do that is just another way to help us get back to enjoying a Stella Artois when restaurants re-open.” —Mike Bascom, marketing director for Stella Artois, Labatt Breweries of Canada

David Brown