Awards case study: How Fight or Flight and Flipdish won Gold for 'Best public relations campaign'
In this campaign, new B2B PR agency Fight or Flight boosted share of voice, brand awareness and generated inbound leads for online ordering company Flipdish by shining a light on a story that wasn’t getting the air time it deserved: the relationship between independent restaurant owners and the food delivery platforms Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
About the client
Online food ordering company Flipdish was set up by Irish brothers, Conor and James McCarthy, in Dublin in 2015. Flipdish’s technology enables restaurants, pubs and hotels to quickly and easily add online ordering to their website or mobile app.
Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing
Flipdish is well known in its native Ireland and also has a small market presence in the US, Spain and the UK. In early 2020, Flipdish CEO Conor McCarthy and head of brand and marketing Claire Sweeney decided it was time to launch a major expansion in the UK.
To achieve this, Flipdish chose PR over above-the-line marketing – even without the boost of a hard news announcement. As it turned out, the launch coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Objectives of the campaign
B2B comms agency Fight or Flight immediately saw the opportunity to win share of voice, brand awareness and generate inbound leads for Flipdish by helping it to shine a light on a story that wasn’t getting the air time it deserved: the relationship between independent restaurant owners and the food delivery platforms Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
The target audience
Like other Big Tech platform businesses - Amazon, Uber and Facebook – the food delivery platforms profit via disruption. They are an existential threat to the local restaurant trade, just as Amazon is a threat to the high street.
Despite providing restaurants with access to a bigger market of potential consumers, there are a number of reasons why an independent restaurant might view a relationship with a delivery platform as a ‘Faustian Pact’:
- Restaurants are subject to high commission fees of up to 33%.
- The platforms route all traffic, even organic Google searches for the restaurant, to their site.
- The platforms keep all the data, not even allowing restaurant owners to access information about their own customers.
- The platforms are increasingly dominated by the bigger restaurant providers who can afford to pay more for prominent positioning.
Under these constraints, many local restaurants who choose to list on the aggregator platforms find it difficult to make sustainable profits.
The problem was exacerbated by lockdown, which forced thousands of restaurant owners unable to make money from dine-in customers to investigate take-away options for the first time.
How could Flipdish persuade independent restaurants to choose its technology instead?
Media, channels or techniques used
Fight or Flight recognised that Flipdish could become an important voice for restaurant owners everywhere, highlighting the commercial constraints of the platform model and demonstrating a better way to serve customers: 'build it yourself.'
Fight or Flight started with a workshop in Dublin with Flipdish’s leadership to stress-test the campaign positioning. The agency then built a toolkit of messaging, Q&A, data and proof points to articulate the challenge faced by independent restaurants.
Fight or Flight then conducted a social listening exercise to identify restaurant owners who had been personally affected by the platforms’ high commission fees. One example was royal chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who was so passionate about the topic that he agreed to conduct several interviews free of charge.
To demonstrate the scale of the problem, Fight or Flight engaged third-party analyst and respected retail commentator Peter Backman to calculate the value of the UK hospitality sector to the platforms in terms of commission – £1.2 billion – thereby highlighting the huge revenues being directed away from independent restaurants.
Fight or Flight lined up a series of passionate Flipdish customers – Debbie Reilly, general manager at McMonagles in Glasgow, and Tanisha Broady, owner of the Rock of Virtue café in Cambridge – to talk about their positive experiences setting up their own online ordering systems, and provide advice and encouragement for other restaurant owners looking to do the same.
Timescales of the campaign
- Workshop in Dublin (March 2020).
- Social listening (April 2020).
- Engaging chefs, Peter Backman and customers (April 2020).
- Pitching seletion of news and feature-led stories (April - July 2020).
- Capturing coverage and measuring impact (July 2020).
£17,000 including all agency labour costs and third-party costs.
In just three months, from a base of no prior UK coverage, Fight or Flight drove a total of 49 articles for Flipdish across the UK trade, vertical, national, business and broadcast media. Coverage highlights included:
- An eight-minute broadcast interview segment for Flipdish CEO Conor McCarthy and chef Damian Wawrzyniak on Sky’s Ian King show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbt-l-RnQZo
- Eight paragraphs in WIRED magazine, firmly landing the anti-platform message, with Conor describing how to set up your own online ordering site: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/reanimate-business-coronavirus-lockdown
- An in-depth City AM piece on the £1.2 billion statistic, analysing the negative impact of the platform aggregators and forcing reactive statements from Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo: https://www.cityam.com/restaurants-hit-out-at-delivery-platform-fees-dur...
- A letter to the editor from Conor in the Financial Times warning that aggregators are planning to cut restaurants out of the market entirely by using a combination of dark kitchens and customer data: https://www.ft.com/content/28896245-d99a-4dae-8412-36b343061d26
- Two hits in the Daily Telegraph, one entitled 'The hidden cost of your takeaway meal', spotlighting the raw deal restaurants get on food delivery commissions: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/hidden-cost-takeaway...
- A feature on Tanisha Broady in The Guardian, namechecking the role Flipdish played in enabling her to set up her own online ordering system (note: Fight or Flight proactively secured earned coverage in a government-sponsored advetorial; it did not pay for this article): https://www.theguardian.com/all-in-all-together/2020/jul/01/i-wanted-to-...
- Wall-to-wall trade media coverage in outlets including Casual Dining, Catering Today, QSR, Big Hospitality, Catering Today and Catering Scotland.
The campaign delivered a signicant commercial impact: a 4068% increase in traffic to the Flipdish UK site immediately following the Sky News interview; and a 500% spike in organic traffic to Flipdish’s LinkedIn channel.
Claire Sweeney, head of brand & comms, Flipdish
"This campaign shines a light on a story that wasn’t getting the air time it deserved: the relationship between independent restaurant owners and the food delivery platforms Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. It has helped restaurant owners to realise the scale of the problem, and that there are much better alternaties out there for online ordering."