Boston Pizza creates a patio manual

Who: Boston Pizza, with John St. for creative, UM for media, Partners Film for production, Saints for editing, and Eggplant for audio.

What: “Patio retraining,” a humorous campaign based on the idea that after months of being stuck at home, people may have forgotten how to dine on a restaurant patio.

When & Where: The campaign is live now including :30 and :15 TV spots, social posts, out-of-home, wild postings and radio, as well as a 72-page manual. The campaign runs until Sept. 12, with the TV buy covering June 21 to Aug. 1. The campaign actually launched earlier this month with billboards and a toll-free advice hotline.

Why: With warmer weather returning and covid numbers improving, Boston Pizza is leaning into the patio experience with this one, sharing advice and reminders about some basic patio etiquette and norms. “With the most patio locations across Canada, Boston Pizza wrote the book on patio-ing in this country. That’s why it was necessary for us to actually write the book on patio-ing,” said Cam Boyd, creative director at John St., in a release.

How: Many of the lessons in the ads can be applied to any dining out experience. But for now at least—either by law, or because of anxiety about going inside where permitted—many people will be eating outside. Boston Pizza made this about patios, letting the copywriters loose to tell a funny, playful story.

“Through this series of lessons, you will methodically re-learn how to get back on the metaphorical bike we like to call a physical Boston Pizza patio,” reads the introduction. “Soon, the patio training wheels will come off and you’ll be confidently patio-ing in no time. Well, there will be some time required. There are multiple lessons, and that was a figure of speech.”

The manual contains 30 detailed, practical lessons about returning to the patio, such as “The lost art of patio small talk,” “Getting a drink from someone you don’t know,” and “What’s the deal with this tiny blanket on my table?” (It’s a napkin). A limited number of printed copies of the manual are being given away, and an ebook version is available for download.

The “Re-Training Video” shows bewildered customers struggling to adjust to eating a meal and enjoying their drinks on a Boston Pizza patio. “You eat that like a sandwich you’d make, but we made it,” says the narrator. “That’s a coaster. It’s like a chair for your drink.”

And we quote: “It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to order beer from a real-life server, hang out with non-virtual people, or do any of the other fun stuff people do in social settings. We see the BP Patio Re-Training Manual as a celebration of all the little things that come along with being on a BP patio that people may have taken for granted in simpler times.” — Niels van Oyen, director of marketing, Boston Pizza

David Brown