CASE STUDIES

DISCOVERY ANIMAL PLANET CASE STUDY

Challenge: Discovery Communications suddenly must launch a new cable network that hasn’t been budgeted. The SVP Marketing asks to meet, saying, “Everyone at Discovery Pictures (my client) said to talk to you before going further. We’ll pay you for a rush marketing communications plan for the launch of our new Animal Planet network. Your challenge: Build awareness/audience and cable carriage quickly and reasonably.” “Is that all?” I chuckled.

Action plan: One of my strategies for achieving both goals: Establish for-profit/nonprofit tiered partnerships with 72 appropriate animal/natural history, environmental, educational, parent, and children’s organizations that represent millions of committed and interested members and donors and have publications to reach them. And target marketing to 27 additional national categories of constituents, including pet stores. Cable operators would be easily persuaded to carry family-friendly Animal Planet with millions of ready viewers behind it.

Discovery liked my detailed marketing communications plan and tasked me to work on the execution across divisions of the company (education, digital, retail) to support the new network. In the parent guide I developed for Discovery Pictures’ first feature film, The Leopard Son, I created a fun page to also promote Animal Planet that could also be a standalone promo. Discovery ordered hundreds of thousands. Discovery also trademarked one of my marketing ideas and used it successfully in both national and international promotion of the new network.

Results: Animal Planet became the fastest growing cable network of its era! It remains one of Discovery’s main networks, carried in 70 countries.

AL TIRAMISU CASE STUDY

Challenge: Al Tiramisu was basically an unknown restaurant by an unknown Chef/owner in a tough business where many do not make it. Open only six months in summer 1996, the cozy new Dupont Circle restaurant in the former location of renowned Chef Roberto Donna’s Galileo was slow prior to the Labor Day holiday when I walked in as a customer with a client. My client asked Chef/owner Luigi Diotaiuti, a delightful Italian charmer, how he intended to build awareness and customers adding, “You should hire Rozanne—she’s the best marketing communications person in town!”

Action plan: Pre-social media and the level of today’s restaurant buzz and foodie craze, Rozanne devised and executed a creative strategy to get quick recognition—an attention-getting “Three Months of Love” campaign, a restaurant review by Phyllis Richman in The Washington Post, cooking at the Smithsonian Resident Associates Italian program promoted with a photo of Chef Luigi to thousands of members, Washingtonian restaurant review, and fun news release that was covered in all of the local/neighborhood papers.

An eye-catching, colorful foldout direct mailer to the Dupont Circle neighborhood was headlined: “In Italy, one day for love is not enough.” It had different offerings for January-March, culminating in a one-year anniversary celebration—a multicourse “Big Night” dinner, a takeoff on the Italian movie by that name.

Results: These actions put Al Tiramisu “on the map.” There was buzz. Business increased. The restaurant quickly gained customers. The Big Night dinner was sold out—a second one was scheduled to meet demand, and TV covered it.

AL TIRAMISU CASE STUDY, ‘TAKE 2’—
15-17 YEARS LATER (with breaks)

Challenge: Al Tiramisu had been in business 15 years so getting attention is harder as media and patrons seek the next new hot restaurant. Now, everyone is a “foodie” and “restaurant critic,” posting reviews and food photos on social media and blogs. Al Tiramisu generally fared well in such reviews and in weekly chats by The Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema. But Sietsema hadn’t reviewed the restaurant in The Washington Post Fall or Spring Dining Guides since 2005.

Although Al Tiramisu billed itself as the “most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation’s capital,” a Google search for those words came up with a number of Italian restaurants on pages 1-2 so its brand was not clear. While there was a wall of celebrity photos, media never covered celebrities dining at Al Tiramisu and few knew that George Clooney dined there 20 times. The website could have presented the restaurant and the Chef better in terms of verbiage and website architecture. There were no news releases or media coverage on the website, no video or TV coverage so that TV could assess whether the chef would be good on TV. There wasn’t a section with the chef cooking at farmers markets, teaching cooking classes, cooking demos on TV. The chef didn’t feel that Twitter was important. There were no Twitter and YouTube logos on the website.

While the restaurant had a solid, devoted following, when I mentioned Al Tiramisu to others, they said things like, “I went there years ago but haven’t thought about going back – haven’t heard much about it.” “Loved it. Is it still around?”

Yet, the chef had big goals: Review in the Washington Post Fall Dining Guide, cooking at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC, TV coverage, and President Obama and First Lady for date night at Al Tiramisu. Much had to be done to move these things forward. The Al Tiramisu brand had to be burnished in every way possible and a significantly higher profile created.

Action plan: First use the 15th anniversary as a “hook” to achieve the following:

Burnish the restaurant’s brand as “the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation’s capital” and add the concept of fun and joy to further stand out in the marketplace.

  • Created new market positioning statement on everything — 15 years of authentic Italian food and joy.
  • Created one-year anniversary celebration. Tie together the 15th anniversary of the restaurant and the 150th anniversary of the United Republic of Italy in everything during the entire 2011 anniversary year.
    • Free celebratory Prosecco with entrées during March 2011
    • Cooking classes covering the 20 regions of Italy created by Chef Luigi—covering history, geography, and culture as well as food and wine of each region, which Rozanne promoted regularly in Washington Post, local media, and social media.
      • Live tweeted cooking classes with photos – before other entities were doing this – to 17,000 followers of Indian Chef/”social media Swami” and retweeted my tweets – part of plan for more active social media presence.
      • Multiple releases posted on more than 200+ digital media sites.
    • Wrote delightful release with photos on Chef Luigi participating in the ancient Italian tradition of Transumanza, herding cattle long distances.
  • Redeveloped website—rewrote content, developed additional new web architecture to take care of issues noted above.

Results: Buzz, publicity, well-attended classes, queries from all over on twitter. Al Tiramisu dominated page 1-2 of Google searches for “the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation’s capital” during the time I handled marketing communications. Drove TV and media to website to make positive coverage decisions.

Reposition the Chef and the restaurant as “hot,” a place that celebrities and well-known politicos dined, through media coverage and word-of-mouth.

  • Created idea of “Super Star dinner” so average customers can dine like the various Super Stars at Al Tiramisu
  • The Washington Post Reliable Source Column with color photo of Chef Luigi with actor director George Clooney — headlined ‘George Clooney’s secret Al Tiramisu visits revealed’ about Clooney dining there some 20 times in a decade.
  • Fan site, George Clooney Open House, picks up the story, and the actors fans become engaged in dialogue.
  • News release on Super Star dinner and George Clooney gets picked up on 230+ digital media sites, including entertainment sites.
  • Dining Bisnow featuring three chefs on how to host celebrities — Chef Luigi was pictured with actor Harrison Ford
  • Famous DC
  • News then regularly appeared on celebrity sites.


Results: Created a great deal of buzz. Catapulted Chef Luigi and Al Tiramisu into a different league. Opened doors to greater opportunities as well as high-level media coverage. Washington Post Reliable Source story still remains on Google page 1 on Al Tiramisu searches 1+ years later.

Reposition Chef Luigi as not only an Italian food authority but also as a savvy restaurateur and businessman, in business media, who lasted through economic downturns and two years of disruptive street construction in front of his restaurant to.

Results: Provided greater dimension to Chef Luigi and more opportunities for interviews, speaking platforms, and national TV exposure

  • Two articles with photos in the online and print editions of the Washington Business Journal, an important target audience in DC
  • CEO Blog Nation on choosing a business name
  • Business Matters Blog Talk Radio Show on advice to small businesses
  • FSR Magazine on the pros and cons of Open Table
  • Two restaurant reviews directed to lobbyists HungryLobbyist.com and Mike Berman’s Washington Watch
  • Hundreds of business journal postings of releases, including Market Watch Wall Street Journal.
  • Social media hospitality conference speaker—Chef Luigi was a hit as a speaker

Position Chef Luigi in the media and otherwise as health conscious—in the way he cooks, exercises, and lives in tune with the White House “Let’s Move” campaign.

Results:

  • Created highly successful relationship and “adopted” Georgetown elementary school cooking club– Chef Luigi never taught children before and LOVES it. The kids take a field trip to learn cooking in Al Tiramisu’s kitchen; then Chef Luigi teaches cooking in the school cafeteria kitchen. Promoted in releases, media coverage, social media with photos. Obtained photo features in media with recipes and video.
  • Developed fun news release about Chef Luigi running marathons on multiple continents—Chef Luigi ‘Runs’ his talk (instead of ‘walks’ for a fun play on words). Picked up on hundreds of digital sites.
  • Competitor Magazine did feature story with photo and recipe before running
  • Obtained invitation for Chef Luigi to teach cooking at Rancho LaPuerta, preeminent international eco-spa; he chose not to follow up, and he chose to handle White House angle through his contacts
  • Numerous releases and articles on his healthy food philosophy

Developed initial strategy for Chef Luigi to cook at James Beard House and become part of the State Department’s American Chef Corps

  • Through Rozanne’s chef contact, Chef Luigi was invited to join DC informal group of celebrity chefs, and briefed on how to get into State Department’s American Chef Corps and cook at James Beard House.
  • Chef Luigi joined James Beard Foundation. Then on his own, he met and charmed the JBF president, told her of his “American Dream” to cook there, and asked me to prepare needed materials. I drafted a follow-up email for him, created polished bio and other new Al Tiramisu branded documents. Followed up with the president and program officer. Arranged three-way conference call with program officer. Chef Luigi went to New York to meet with the program officer and came back with a commitment to cook there.
  • Booked many media interviews beforehand about Chef Luigi cooking at Beard House, including a cooking demo from the dinner on NBC4.

Results: Chef Luigi cooked at James Beard House on his birthday, March 14, 2013, and achieved his American Dream! Prior to that, he used his connections and became part of the American Chef Corps. Well-packaged news release announcing those things and others garnered outstanding media coverage and put chef Luigi into a new trajectory.

Further major results:

  • Washington Post Spring Dining Guide 2013 – Al Tiramisu was the first of only 13 restaurants featured in extremely positive restaurant review where reviewer brought his mother.
  • USA Today, Fine Italian Restaurants in Washington, DC
  • Approval from Smithsonian of Rozanne’s idea for a major upcoming James Beard program with Chef Luigi that could be significantly hotter than their Julia Child program. The prestigious Post and Smithsonian bring my early work with Al Tiramisu full circle.

Overall results: Business is excellent. Chef Luigi and Al Tiramisu are in a totally different league now from when I started working with them January-July 2011 (and again May 2012-March 2013), plus two projects since March—teaching cooking to elementary school children and major Smithsonian upcoming program. Chef Luigi is on a new trajectory and is well positioned to become a super star chef and achieve his other big goals, including a successful book launch.