Influencer Relations

Creating a Food Holiday to Generate National Awareness

Challenge

Sonny’s BBQ was founded in 1968 in Gainesville, Fla., by Sonny Tillman and his wife Lucille, when their dream was to open a local BBQ joint for their community to enjoy. Today, Sonny’s BBQ is headquartered in Winter Park, Fla., and has 113 locations across the southeast United States. Although it’s the third largest barbecue chain in the country, Sonny’s BBQ continues to manifest a local feel that brings communities together, just like it has since 1968. In 2016, Crossroads was tasked with garnering national attention for the barbecue chain while focusing on its local Pitmasters, who through vigorous training are recognized as barbecue experts, in order to establish the brand’s expertise within the barbeque industry while driving traffic in-store.

Solution

Crossroads and Sonny’s BBQ leveraged National Pork Month in October to establish National Pulled Pork Day as an official holiday on Oct. 12, creating a national stand for the brand, while establishing its credibility as a leader in the barbecue space. Pulled pork was strategically selected to celebrate this new, national holiday because of Sonny’s BBQ restaurants’ acclaimed pulled pork and tradition as a Southern-style classic, loved nationwide.

 

To create national awareness of the new holiday while bringing attention to the Sonny’s BBQ brand, Crossroads worked with government organizations, barbecue associations, barbecue and foodie influencers and national and local media outlets, in addition to creating creative and messaging resources for the brand’s website and social media profiles. The team also worked with Sonny’s BBQ Pitmasters to break a Guinness World Record, making the world’s Largest Serving of Pulled Pork at the first National Pulled Pork Day holiday celebration near Sonny’s BBQ headquarters in Winter Park, Fla.

Results

Crossroads exceeded all objectives for National Pulled Pork Day. In advance of the holiday, Crossroads secured support from the Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee and Winter Park mayoral offices through mayoral proclamations, as well as national barbecue associations, including the National BBQ Association and National Pork Board. The team secured more than 150 media placements and 16 influencer partnerships nationally and within the Sonny’s BBQ footprint during the one-day celebration, garnering more than 5.8 million impressions; further, average website traffic to SonnysBBQ.com increased 101 percent the week of National Pulled Pork Day.