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How Illegal Jack restaurant built brand through social media; Social Buzz Awards case study


By The Drum Team, Editorial


video article

December 2, 2011 | 4 min read

This case study outlines how Edinburgh restaurant Illegal Jack’s South West Grill utilised the power of video sharing to drive awareness of and engagement with its brand.

Illegal Jack’s South West Grill is a contemporary tex-mex restaurant where all food is prepared fresh daily, to sit in or take out. Meals are prepared in front of the customer in a relaxed atmosphere fuelled by classic rock music. The relatively new business’ success has been based on creating a brand which engages personally with consumers. Use of video has played a key part in this.It’s clear once you have an understanding of social media that content is key: millions of videos are shared every day. Illegal Jacks’ first forays into this area were homemade amateur videos for the restaurant’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. The videos did generate some response, as well as being shared by people on behalf of the company. A month or so later one of them featured at the end of a local weekly news roundup on Youtube. I got in touch with the maker of the video (who unbeknown to me was a customer of our’s) via Twitter and he came in for a chat. But before we even met, he had posted one of the restaurant’s videos on how to eat a Burrito. At this point the video creation strategy began to become formalised. With the help of a willing customer who was doing film making studies at university, Illegal Jack’s produced The Illegal Jack (W)rap. Made exclusively by and with customers, it proved to be a huge hit with over 200 “shares” on Facebook, as well as dozens of retweets on Twitter. The music video also had two trailers promoting it which were released two weeks and one week respectively prior to the video itself. One week later the outtakes were also released.

The Illegal Jack (W)rap

The Illegal Jack (W)rap out-takes

It should be noted that none of the 50 customers in the video had any idea what we were up to: they were simply contacted by Illegal Jack privately the night before on Twitter and invited to join in some fun the following night after work. The response from those contacted was almost 100%, despite having no idea what they were coming along to. Following the success of the Jack (W)rap, a plan was hatched for the run up to Christmas: an Alternative Christmas Number One. Following a similar format to the previous music video, there were two trailers, the main production, and an outtakes. This time, the level of planning and detail was far higher, resulting in a better quality film. The restaurant also had a surprise for everyone: the novelist and critic Ian Rankin (of Rebus fame) agreed to take a cameo role since he had started dining in Jack’s after being invited to the restaurant by one of the Twitter crowd.

Christmas No. 1 video

Christmas No.1 out-takes

The Christmas Number One proved a success with over 300 “shares” on Facebook and hundreds of comments on Twitter. Ian Rankin himself has the biggest Twitter following in Edinburgh, with almost 13000 at the time, so his stamp of approval and sharing the video helped spread the reach. The final part of the video campaign was the recent tie up with independent beer company Brewdog. To celebrate this and Burns Night, Illegal Jack’s held a special ticketed event which sold out.

Since the video campaign was customer-driven, the video strategy has cost the business around £500 of free food and beers. The video campaign has been key in the business achieving over 3200 “shares” on Facebook and building a sizeable following there and on Twitter.This campaign won the Chairman's Award at the Social Buzz Awards


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