Why Stella Artois is slowing down fast food

Who: AB InBev, with Anomaly for strategy and creative; SaltXC for XM/production; and Veritas for PR.

What: The “Stella Artois Dine-Thru,” a pop-up restaurant in Toronto that is serving “elevated” fast food in exchange for coupons from any fast food restaurant. The Dine Thru is part of Stella’s “Make Time for the Life Artois” platform launched earlier this year.

When & Where: The Dine-Thru is open evenings from Aug. 11 to 15, with one-hour seatings available for reservations. It’s at Yonge Street near Wellesley in Toronto (right beside a McDonald’s), with out-of-home ads around the city.

Why: Stella Artois has long connected the brand to bringing people together over food and enjoying time with friends and family. But according to the brewer, many Canadians—and young Canadians in particular—are eating fast food at least twice a week, and often do so on their own.

“The pace of modern life has caused many to prioritize speed and convenience at mealtime, and as a result, people often lose valuable time spent together,” said Stella Artois Canada’s senior marketing director, Mike Bascom. “This is especially true in fast-food culture.

“With this insight creating a unique tension with our overarching brand purpose, we saw an opportunity to create an experience that encourages consumers to stop prioritizing speed and convenience at mealtime,” he said.

“Stella’s brand platform is built on pouring life back into dinner and giving meal time more meaning,” added Sasha Barkans, associate creative director at Anomaly. “The truth is, we’ve grown accustomed to eating alone [and] working through dinner, which is why the Stella Artois Dine-Thru makes perfect sense for the brand… We wanted to get people to slow down and connect over delicious food and Stella Artois.”

How: Stella Artois worked with social / celebrity chef Laurent Dagenais (who has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and two million on TikTok) to develop the five-item menu:

  • The Ultimate Fried Calamari Burger
  • Laurent’s Double-Fried Parm Frites
  • Nostalgic Deep-Fried Mac ‘N’ Cheese Balls
  • You Have Had a Pogo, but Have You Had a Merguez Pogo
  • The Most Decadent Confit Poutine

Anomaly strategically placed OOH ads near well-known QSRs showing how the Dine Thru menu items have been “slowed down” by Stella Artois after streaking across the ad in a blur of motion, accompanied by directions to the pop-up. Direct mail ads spoofing fast-food coupons are also helping raise awareness.

While the pop-up is limited to one location for a few days, the idea, and partnering with a celebrity chef like DaGenais enabled them to create what Barkans described as a “content factory.” The brand, Anomaly’s digital creators, visitors, and influencers can all capture the experience and share it with those who can attend themselves.

“We’ve found this type of content ends up really resonating with consumers in a much more authentic way,” said Barkans. “So far, the Dine-Thru has helped facilitate some really shareable and engaging content that has already exceeded our goals.”

“The insight behind the pop-up is resonating with audiences nationally, which we’ve seen in via social engagement,” added Bascom. “We’ve already surpassed our social conversation expectations, and as of today, this is our most talked about campaign on social for Stella Artois Canada.”

And we quote: “The idea of flipping fast-food culture on its head and the opportunity to enjoy an elevated menu item—inspired by classic fast-food items and developed by our partner, Laurent Dagenais—in exchange for a standard fast-food coupon, is majorly resonating with consumers.” —Mike Bascom, senior marketing director, Stella Artois Canada.

David Brown