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Restaurants in Crisis? Ventura Foods to the Rescue

As restaurants began closing due to COVID-19, food supplier Ventura Foods wanted to find a way to support the foodservice industry. Here's how they launched The Great American Takeout and reached over 117 million people.

Ventura Foods, a Salesforce customer, wrote this article.

When COVID-19 closed restaurant doors across the country, communities lost an essential source of both sustenance and connection. Even worse, some restaurant owners now face permanent closures, and their employees no longer have jobs.

My company, Ventura Foods, is one of many food suppliers that felt the anxiety the industry was undergoing from the sidelines. We wanted to find a way to help restaurants and the 15 million affected U.S. employees. We partnered with our agency and a coalition of restaurants to find a creative, innovative way to support our restaurant partners — and The Great American Takeout was born.

The campaign started as a no-budget, grassroots idea to encourage people to order takeout or delivery meals from their favorite restaurants while staying at home. With influencers like LeBron James (part owner of Blaze Pizza) creating additional awareness, how could we not get involved?

Our technology-powered social engagement

Ventura Foods strives to be an agile, digital-first company. Before the health crisis, we used Quip for our employees. To support The Great American Takeout, we added Social Studio through Salesforce Cares, a free solution that helps companies respond to the crisis rapidly. The social dashboard helps us create the best messages and inspire continued engagement in these ways:

  • Test messaging: We watch the uptake of different messages and iterate accordingly.
  • Monitor sentiment: As the weeks go by, we use learnings from previous campaigns to improve future social posts.
  • Increase brand awareness: We see how frequently our brand is tagged across different social media platforms.

For the campaign launch, we created a short video explaining The Great American Takeout, along with other marketing materials for our social channels. Many of our partners from the coalition of restaurants and supporting companies did the same.

The first Great American Takeout day was on Tuesday, March 24. That week alone, there were more than 50,000 social media posts with the tag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. 

Supporting those hit the hardest

Giving back to the community is also one of our core values, with a focus on hunger prevention. In conjunction with the social campaign, we decided to offer additional financial support to relevant organizations that support restaurant employees.

For the second week of the campaign, Ventura Foods donated money for each post with the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. That money, $25,000, went to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to support U.S. restaurant workers.

The campaign stays timely and fun as the weeks go by, and our donations help keep interest strong. For example, to encourage the theme of picnicking at home, we used Social Studio to monitor mentions and partnered with Hidden Valley Ranch to give 200 at-home picnickers (who posted on social media) $50 gift cards for use on their next takeout meal.

Committing to the future

The Great American Takeout has been invaluable to struggling restaurants and their employees.

Millions of people have ordered takeout or delivery meals. By the fourth week, the campaign reached over 117 million people. It has raised more than $310,000 for charities that help restaurant employees and their children.

We plan to continue our industry support as restaurants begin to reopen. Salesforce Social Studio will help us strike the right tone as circumstances evolve. It means so much for us to help our customers continue to delight their customers, especially during these tough times.

Read more in our Leading Through Change blog series, which offers thought leadership, tips, and advice for retailers.

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