In Focus
MARKETING | Kevin Santos, Australia

Organic & authentic: how Guzman y Gomez struck marketing gold by following their instincts

Chief marketing officer, Lara Thom, looks back at the success of #BringCalHome, and explains the importance of brands having a personality.

It all started with a simple Facebook post.

Cal Ryan, a millennial backpacker travelling in London, sent Guzman y Gomez (GYG) a message and started a campaign November of last year to get him back to Australia so he could eat one of their signature burrito bowls.

Relying on their gut instincts, GYG’s marketing team answered the call and challenged Cal to get 3,000 comments and 1,000 shares in two weeks.

In a surprising turn, the target was reached in less than a single day with numerous headlines around the world spotlighting the phenomenal campaign.

More than half a year later, #BringCalHome was recognized at the 2018 QSR Media Awards as the Best Marketing Campaign for the past 12 months. Guzman y Gomez also bagged the top prize for being the year’s Best Multi-Site Restaurant.

QSR Media talked to Lara Thom, GYG’s chief marketing officer, who looked back on the success of #BringCalHome, the value of having a brand personality, and their plans this year.

QSR Media: Tell us more about your reaction to winning Best Marketing Campaign and Best Multi-Site Restaurant at the recently-held QSR Media Awards.
Winning awards is always such an honour. But to win the Best Marketing Campaign within our industry was an acknowledgement for our team that the campaign was recognised as best in class by our peers. I was immensely proud of my team and what they achieved with this campaign; they moved incredibly fast to bring it to life and as the true millennial marketers they are, they had so much belief and confidence in every move we made with this campaign.

QSR Media: GYG won the Best Marketing Campaign for #BringCalHome, which went viral. Looking back, what gave you the instinct to pursue that post from Cal?
The #BringCalHome campaign evolved organically. Cal Ryan was sitting in his flat in London craving a GYG burrito bowl. He wrote to us on our Facebook page asking us to fly him home for a burrito bowl and back to London where he could continue his travels. I picked the post up at 2am in the morning just as he posted it. It was so ballsy and so “GYG” I thought “Why not?! This is exactly what a typical GYG millennial customer will do for a burrito!”

We challenged him to get a certain number of likes and shares on his post and gave him 2 weeks to hit the number. He did it in 24 hours! From there, the campaign just skyrocketed: he was on radio, TV and covered by the London press as well. We flew Cal into Brisbane for the opening of our 100th restaurant in Burleigh but we also surprised his parents and flew his brother Nate in from London as well where the boys met their baby niece for the first time. As news travelled, the story got bigger and bigger and hit headlines globally. It was a nice distraction from all the bad news that was going on in the world at the time.

Guzman y Gomez chief marketing officer Lara Thom

QSR Media: What do you think drove the success of the campaign? What are some things your team learned from it, which you will apply to future marketing campaigns and/or other activities?
We were very fortunate that Cal was a genuine fan of the brand and very media savvy. We couldn’t have cast a better brand ambassador for the campaign so we owe a lot to him, his brother Nate and their cheeky personalities. The success of the campaign was driven by its authenticity. It wasn’t a pre-planned campaign or stunt, it was yet another ‘story’ for GYG to tell about our guests and the lengths they will go to get their hands on our food.

Consumers loved getting on board to help him achieve the number of likes and shares he needed to fly from London to Australia for a GYG burrito and it had a ring of ‘Who would do that?’ to it! We’ve always been agile as a team but this campaign taught us that when we follow our guts on a great idea, [we’re] not to over analyse it but just go with it and see where we end up.

Cal Ryan's message to GYG that kickstarted the #BringCalHome campaign. (Photo credit: Cal Ryan/Guzman y Gomez Blog)

QSR Media: To what extent do marketing campaigns like these contribute to developing brand love?
We always start with the product, if the product isn’t right, there will be no brand love. You can develop the best marketing campaigns in the world but it’s more important that your product delivers the goods. Our guests genuinely LOVE our food and I think that’s the contribution this campaign made to the brand love guests have for GYG. It showed how far one customer would go for a burrito.

Our tone of voice and brand personality is the cream on top and Cal knew he would receive a fun answer from us even if we didn’t say yes. Every aspect of our business is focussed on our guests and they feel it when they walk into our restaurants. This campaign was confirmation that we do listen to our guests and deliver on our promises. 

QSR Media: What should your franchisees and customers be excited about for the rest of the year? Any particular plans GYG would like to announce?
Oh, you’ve got me there, if it were a few weeks from now, I could probably share but we have some huge announcements coming soon, we’re looking after the environment, vegans and developing our tech stack at a rapid rate.

Last month, we opened the doors to our very first 24/7 GYG restaurant in Swanston St, Melbourne. We’re bringing the demand for the late night burrito to our customer base. Already, the response has been mind-blowing — who doesn’t love a late night burrito?! GYG is currently sifting through the potential of sites across Australia to go 24/7 and it won’t be long until we have our first 24/7 GYG Drive Thru. At GYG we never rest, watch this space!

QSR Media: Any further comments you'd like to make?
On behalf of our team, we are very grateful to QSR Media for this award and the Best Multi-Site Restaurant of the Year award, 2018 is definitely GYG’s year!

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