BP creates patio-inspired ‘merit’ badges

Who: Boston Pizza, with John St. for strategy and creative; Kiddo Films for production (MAPP directing); Saints Editorial and Darling for post-production and UM Canada for media.

What: A new campaign celebrating the return of patio season using the idea of bestowing Scouts-style merit badges on customers who demonstrate acumen in various patio-related accomplishments, like using a folded-up coaster to level out a wobbly table.

When & Where: The national campaign is in market now, running through patio season across TV, social posts, out-of-home, wild postings and radio.

Why: BP claims more patios than any other restaurant chain in Canada, and has made it a key focus of its recent summer campaigns. This campaign builds on last year’s playful “Patio Retraining” campaign, which jokingly reintroduced patrons to its patios after the pandemic hiatus and included a 72-page training manual.

How: The creative idea is to humorously highlight some staple behaviours of patio dining and reward them with a merit badge. It’s actually a conceit intended to demonstrate the casual dining chain’s commitment to patio eating, and people don’t actually have to perform specific tasks to earn a “badge.”

The guy (and it’s almost always a guy) who yells “Opa!” whenever someone drops a glass or plate, for example, could be eligible for an “Obligatory ‘opa’ yelling” badge. Using a folded-up coaster to level out a wobbly table? That could be good for a “Patio Engineering” badge. Ordering tacos on a day other than Tuesday? Here’s an “Ate tacos. Not Tuesday” badge for your accomplishment.

The badges exist primarily in digital form in a “Patio Handbook,” although BP is offering an actual full set of the collection (as well as gift cards) to anyone who collects all 25 badges by summer’s end.

The crux of the campaign is a series of 15-second TV spots demonstrating the kinds of actions that can earn a merit badge. “The chair charmer,” for example, shows a man using all of his charm to persuade people at a nearby table to let him borrow their chair, while “DIY breeze” shows a woman glamorously tossing her hair in slow-motion, only to reveal that the wind-blown look is being accomplished by her fellow diner wafting her with a menu.

And we quote: “Patio season is a big deal for us at Boston Pizza. Those perfect summer days and nights are something we crave all year long. From the perfect outdoor food and drink options, to our fun and lively atmosphere, we’ve made the BP Patio experience one that rewards anyone who wants to reacquaint themselves with the finer points of ‘patio-ing.'”— James Kawalecki, vice-president of marketing, Boston Pizza

Chris Powell