Gousto — Cookstarter
Supporting Britain’s diverse food culture by helping independent restaurants thrive
With the hospitality sector struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gousto had the opportunity to stand up for those struggling independent restaurants that faced closure. As the champion of food variety, Gousto was the perfect brand to galvanise the British public to get behind their favourite local restaurants.
Fronted by chef Gizzi Erskine, and supported by national treasure Joe Wicks and comedian Katherine Ryan as well as local foodie influencers, the Cookstarter asked the public to nominate their favourites with the winners receiving a £10,000 grant and a year long mentoring mentoring programme from Gousto executives, as well as the chance to have their recipes made available on the Gousto platform.
To support choice and variety at all mealtimes amidst lockdowns and restrictions which threatened the UK restaurant scene (aka their competition).
Drive a nationwide ‘Cookstarter’ campaign to support Britain’s diverse food culture and help independent restaurants thrive.
We conducted research into the state of the nation’s restaurant scene and found that 90% of independent restaurants faced the risk of permanent closure during the pandemic, and a huge 70% of respondents feared the variety of Britain’s food scene was under threat. Findings also highlighted that 82% of people wanted to do more to help, but felt helpless or unsure at to how to support.
Channelling Gousto’s ‘Give It Some’ creative strategy and brand attitude, Manifest tore up the rulebook and went against the grain to support the brand’s direct competitors: independent restaurants. Showcasing Gousto’s commitment to Britain’s richly diverse food scene, we created the Cookstarter campaign; a multichannel nationwide rallying cry inviting Brits to nominate their can’t-live-without local independent restaurant to receive vital no-strings-attached funding and business support.
We enlisted the help of chef and restauranteur Gizzi Erskine, fitness influencer Joe Wicks and comedian Katherine Ryan to announce the campaign to media and garner widespread support. The first wave of coverage saw nominations flood in with foodies up and down the country. We also engaged influencers from across the country to create content about their favourite restaurants in their local area and drive further reach and support.
After a rigorous selection process, more than 15,000 restaurants were whittled down to 10 shortlisters. Each was supplied with a suite of marketing materials to promote across their own channels, in their local area, and on-site, for their community to share, maximise publicity and rally local support.
When the five finalists were selected and announced, we did regional spotlights on each of them to drive further coverage and awareness. The winners all received £10,0000 in funding, plus access to a year-long programme of mentoring from Gousto’s executive team. They also had dishes from their menus created as recipes available on Gousto, with people being given the opportunity to ‘tip’ their favourites and offer further support. Gousto also encouraged donations to Hospitality Action – a charity established to provide vital assistance to all who work, or have worked, within hospitality in the UK – to further raise awareness and provide direct financial support for the wider industry.
The campaign ignited an exceptional and highly emotive response from the British public; more than 15,000 nominations were received in just two days – a staggering 2,000% increase against the KPI – driving 48,000 users to the Cookstarter campaign website. The campaign celebrated thousands of independent restaurants by spotlighting nominations across Gousto’s owned channels and dedicated Cookstarter website, handing over the brand’s significant platform to the restaurant owners in order to tell their story and promote their restaurant first-hand.