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Texas Roadhouse
Roadhouse in the House

The background

Texas Roadhouse dove into 2020 riding a wave of YOY growth, but it all came crashing down in March of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. As restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, the restaurant raced to improve to-go capabilities in 550+ locations in just two weeks.

Our challenge was getting customers – for whom the iconic in-restaurant experience was a key driver of choice – to use the service. Focused on digital channels and a limited budget, how could we quickly drive awareness and sales of Texas Roadhouse’s enhanced to-go service?

The result was Roadhouse in the House – a multi-sensory social media and digital campaign designed to bring every aspect of the brand into the homes of customers.

  • 2D and 3D Animation
  • Cinematography and Videography
  • Digital Advertising Development
  • Design
  • Illustration
  • Post Production and Motion Graphics

By the numbers

Increase in to-go orders
Comment-level brand advocacy
Lift in online conversation

Campaign Objective: Online Advocacy

We knew our most loyal fans were young parents who enjoyed the relaxing yet entertaining escape dining at Texas Roadhouse provided. Beyond the food, the restaurant had curated a number of in-restaurant experiences like a birthday saddle, line dancing and a jukebox which provided a night of fun for the family. But these parents were struggling financially and emotionally through quarantine, and our research (and personal experience) showed they turned to social media for support from friends and as a source of entertainment to keep kids occupied at home. We needed these parents to adopt a new behavior by ordering food to go from Texas Roadhouse, so we tapped into our brand loyalists and turned them into online advocates. We wanted them to share their positive to-go experiences and drive online conversation about the brand.

We measured advocacy by looking at the change in “shares” and “comment-level advocacy” (where our proprietary AI technology identifies and counts the number of comments in which customers are advocating for our brand).

A virtual sensory experience

Knowing our customers were interested in virtual experiences, we used digital channels that could effectively bring Texas Roadhouse tastes, sights, sounds and feelings into our customers’ homes safely while provoking conversation. Social media – including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, FB Groups and Twitter – was used to share the content and create conversation. A landing page became our virtual roadhouse hub where all the content/activities were housed for families to access. We also found ways to tap into trending nontraditional channels, like Spotify, Animal Crossing and Zoom, that had emerged as early winners in COVID-19 culture and would be sure to drum up conversation.

Driving awareness for to-go orders

A paid social media campaign targeted existing customers and walked them through – and drove them to – completing to-go orders online. And to make sure they could enjoy their steaks with a fresh Margarita, we used Pinterest to reveal the brand’s top-secret cocktail recipes for customers to recreate at home.

Augmented reality experiences

To make our customers feel like they were eating their to-go orders inside a Roadhouse, we used AR content to virtually immerse them. We illustrated a Facebook 360 image of a fun Roadhouse kitchen scene the viewers could explore, built an AR cowboy hat filter for users to try on and created Roadhouse-themed Zoom backgrounds so living rooms could be transformed into a Roadhouse during virtual happy hours before meals. We also brought Texas Roadhouse into their new virtual worlds, specifically to the gaming world of Animal Crossing, creating a cactus blossom hat and branded t-shirt that users could wear to show off their love of Texas Roadhouse.

A virtual jukebox

Though we couldn’t replicate the sounds of families having a good time, we did curate a Jukebox Jams Spotify playlist so our customers could listen to all the classic country music they were accustomed to hearing at a Roadhouse.

Nurturing a virtual community

To recreate the fun, community feel that supports parents at Texas Roadhouse, we created a private “Roadhouse In The House” Facebook Group where we admitted and engaged with loyal customers, shared kids’ activities and encouraged connection between fans. Finally, we built a landing page to ensure customers could keep the at-home fun going with printable versions of recipes, kids’ activities and games.

Increasing our customer base

While increasing to-go sales was essential to the business, keeping loyal customers engaged and connected to our brand was key to weathering the long-term impact of COVID-19. Not only did we achieve our objectives, but we also reached significantly more people organically, potentially recruiting new customers for the future. Now, how many brands can say they increased the number of prospective customers during a pandemic?


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