BellaBrava, one of the better-known eateries on downtown St. Petersburg's tony Beach Drive, doesn't take its popularity for granted.
The restaurant, instead, launched a new ad campaign with a heavy social media component: Do you #BellaBrava? The pound sign, for those uninitiated in social media and Twitter-speak, represents a hashtag about a certain subject. In this case that subject is BellaBrava customer feedback. “People are talking online,” BellaBrava co-owner Robert Sanderson says, “but it's usually a one-sided conversation about our restaurant in the form of photos, reviews and comments.”
With this campaign, however, the restaurant will repackage the best of the feedback it receives into TV ads, trolley signs and social media posts. Plus, anyone who tags #BellaBrava on their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook photos connected to the restaurant is entered to win a free pizza. Those photos, adds Sanderson, could be anything that brands BellaBrava — even cute babies and dogs.
The campaign, created by St. Petersburg-based ad agency RKC, started in late September with “Do you #BellaBrava?” ads plastered around town. Spots encouraging customer feedback include TV ads on Bay News 9, Bravo and the Food Network, in addition to print ads in a few hyper-local publications, like a downtown St. Petersburg map guide. The campaign also has online exposure, with Facebook and Google AdWords ads.
BellaBrava spends about $100,000 a year on advertising and marketing, Sanderson says, and this campaign is one of the best ones yet. The restaurant opened in 2005 and moved to its current location in 2010. “Everyone loves taking photos,” Sanderson tells Coffee Talk. “It's really engaged people.”
Brian Bailey with RKC says the BellaBrava campaign has generated a lot of buzz in a short period of time. But dinosaurs of a pre-hashtag age take hope: Traditional advertising, Bailey adds, isn't extinct — at least not yet. “Social media is a great tool, if it's done right,” Bailey says, “but offline media really helps complement it.”