Montana’s Cookhouse knew it would be a risky move attempting to barter its barbeque menu items for services such as yoga and new pair of shoes.
Fortunately the stunt – pulled off with the help of Vancouver agency 123W – not only worked, but also provided the restaurant chain with enough video content to air over the coming weeks in movie theatres, on television and across social media.
“We wanted to see if the barbeque alone was great enough to produce the ads, so letting the product speak for itself. It was a big risk, but a big reward, we think,” says Chelsea Kellock, Montana’s brand manager.
Montana’s hired a camera crew to show up unexpectedly at various small businesses in Toronto over two days and offer a plate of BBQ meat in exchange for goods and services. While a couple of businesses declined, Kellock says the bartering team got about a dozen takers, everything from a psychic reading and yoga lesson to a haircut and a massage.
The ads will be airing in cinemas across Canada later this week for about a month, and on TSN for the next two months. Longer versions of each encounter, captured entirely on video, will be released on Montana’s Facebook page and on Twitter, Kellock said.
What’s more, the production crew from OPC Family Style and 123W each also agreed to take part of their payment for their work in barbecue menu items and gift certificates. Kellock wouldn’t say what percentage of the payment was in meat, but that both companies were open to the idea.
It was the first time Montana’s worked with 123W and marked its first major foray into video. Kellock says Montana’s ads have historically been on radio, but they wanted to change it up.
“This was a big jump for us, moving to a visual medium,” she says. “As we developed this positioning around our food, the core of which is around barbecue, we felt that showing off our food visually was key.”
It was also the first time Montana’s, and its parent company Cara, have done this style of advertising.
“We think the unscripted route was kind of a risky but fun approach,” Kellock says.
Montana’s claims its ads are “possibly the world’s first ad campaign paid for in meat.” In a statement the restaurant chain says, “Forget about Bitcoins, meat is much more widely accepted.”