Situational Analysis: The original T.MAC was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1979. More than 30 years later the company has grown to include 30 restaurants – 25 of which are in Georgia. With the majority of its restaurants located in its home state, it is no surprise that T.MAC is well known there. However, T.MAC executives realized the company’s brand recognition wasn’t as strong outside of Georgia.
Until 2014, T.MAC was known as Taco Mac. In the restaurant’s early days, the founders had enough money to revamp the kitchen or change the sign outside the building that was once home to a taco stand. Ultimately, the kitchen remodel won and Taco Mac was born. The problem is that Taco Mac is known for its signature wings, not tacos. In fact, there is only one taco on its menu. T.MAC dropped the “aco” before it opened its first Triangle restaurant in Cary, but its team of executives knew they needed to do more to establish brand recognition in the months leading up to its opening, and they hired Clairemont Communications.
Planning: Based on extensive primary and secondary research, Clairemont established the objectives as follows:
- Develop local community relationships with T.MAC ahead of the opening, engaging at least 40 community influencers.
- Introduce media to T.MAC, securing at least 10 local print news stories and 25 blog and social media posts.
- Arrange meetings with local high schools and facilitate at least two sponsorships.
- Select two local non-profit organizations and donate a portion of opening week proceeds to those organizations.
Execution: In order to effectively meet the primary objectives, Clairemont focused its efforts on the following areas:
- Local High School Sponsorships: By building relationships with local schools, T.MAC was able to introduce itself to Cary families as part of the community and position itself as a place to hang out with teammates, friends and family. With a fall opening of the restaurant, high school football sponsorships provided opportunities to show T.MAC’s community involvement and give Cary families a reason to check out the restaurant.
- Clairemont Social: Clairemont hosted a T.MAC social at The Clairemont House. The purpose was to give our network of contacts and influencers the opportunity to learn more about T.MAC, sample food from the menu and taste its local beer offerings and meet the T.MAC team. We hosted approximately 60 guests including media and local personalities, local business owners, hospitality professionals, leaders in the community, bloggers and foodies.
- Media Preview Lunch: We invited targeted media to a special preview lunch at the restaurant two days prior to the opening. This allowed media to preview the restaurant and meet on-one-one with key members of the T.MAC team.
- VIP Preview: Clairemont compiled a list of city officials, dignitaries, local media and local university administration for T.MAC to invite to special VIP dinner the evening before T.MAC opened to the public. T.MAC hosted 125 VIP’s who were able to sample the menu and beer selection for the complete T.MAC “experience.”
- Check Presentation Event: Before T.MAC’s opening, Clairemont arranged and recommended two local non-profit organizations for T.MAC to support with money raised during the restaurant’s opening week. Less than a month after its opening, T.MAC donated $2,000 to both Life Experiences and JDFR each of the organizations. Clairemont arranged at check presentation ceremony and invited media to attend the event highlighting T.MAC as business that supports the community it serves.
Evaluation: The creative, tiered campaign exceeded expectations by engaging more than 75 target community influencers at the social at The Clairemont House, friends and family night and the VIP preview. We exceeded our goal media coverage and secured 10 traditional media placements 38 social media and blog posts, introducing T.MAC to the area. We also exceeded our goal and secured sponsorships with three local high schools. Clairemont met its goal and arranged for T.MAC to donate money to two local non-profit organizations that support the community.
We anticipate that we’ll continue to work on our goal of trying all of the beers that T.MAC has on tap for at least a few more months! In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed this Tasty Tuesday post, and stay tuned for more restaurant PR case studies that showcase the work Clairemont is doing with a variety of types of food service organizations.