The struggle has been real for both the restaurant industry and consumers itching to dine out safely amid the pandemic, so for the month of April, food ordering app Seamless is delivering a whole new way of enjoying takeout to support its restaurant partners and engage hungry New Yorkers.
Rolling through Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens in its bright red, illuminated Presto! Resto! truck, the brand is tapping into the reverse activation trend by arriving at consumers’ doors with a restaurant on wheels. Each week, Seamless is transforming the vehicle into a replica of a restaurant that has fallen on hard times—each of them curated by restaurant recommendation site The Infatuation—and giving contest winners a chance to enjoy the experience of dining out in a COVID-safe setting. To enter the contest, consumers are asked to share a post on Twitter or Instagram describing what they miss most about dining out while tagging @Seamless and #PrestoResto. (Those who aren’t selected for the dining experience can use coupon codes to get free delivery from each week’s featured restaurant.)
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Three contest winners per day, along with three guests of their choosing, are getting a taste of one of four beloved New York eateries: Miss Lily’s Jamaican diner, Di An Di Vietnamese restaurant, Comfortland American cuisine or Adda Indian Canteen. The winners first use a generous stipend to purchase their food and beverages. Shortly afterward, a Seamless driver rolls up to their home in the Presto! Resto! truck and delivers the meals packaged in COVID-safe wrappers within a custom bag. From there, it’s time to chow down with the assistance of waiters dressed like the featured restaurant’s staff. In a nod to Earth Month, Seamless also provides eco-friendly takeaway boxes and reusable cups for leftovers.
“We have been trying to find ways that we can support our restaurants and go above and beyond to bring them to the forefront of the conversation, especially restaurants who may be having problems right now with capacity restrictions or not having space for outdoor dining,” says Mandy Cudahy, director of content marketing at Grubhub, parent company of Seamless. “On the diner side, our objective for quite some time now has been to provide diners with rewarding dining experiences. So, especially during a time when people aren’t feeling great, we’re trying to find ways to make meal time exciting, a little bit more rewarding and encourage people to get together through experiences.”
The brand is going all-in to bring the sights and sounds of each restaurant to life inside the truck, from playing songs heard at the featured establishment to expertly replicating its décor (designs were approved by each eatery). For Miss Lily’s, Seamless channeled the restaurant’s Caribbean vibe and incorporated replicas of its glittery disco ball and speaker and record walls, hung custom drapes fashioned for the experience and recreated the printed artwork found on its walls. For other restaurants, furniture and other décor elements plucked right from the establishment will be incorporated into the space.
For Seamless, the challenge of traveling to the consumer rather than hosting a pop-up, for instance, is determining how to measure the program’s impact. Cudahy says the brand’s focus is on drumming up word-of-mouth buzz.
“You’re missing the element of mass amounts of diners coming in and walking by, and that line experience, like traditional pop-ups,” says Cudahy. “But the goals that we were looking to achieve were bringing attention to Seamless’ efforts around supporting restaurants, whether that be through press, through influencers or word of mouth. We’re looking to get as many entries into [the contest] as possible, and drive that conversation around Seamless as we kick off summer. So our core measurements, overall, would be any word-of-mouth elements and buzz we get around this initiative, showcasing that it was interesting to New Yorkers, versus necessarily overall impressions.”
The Presto! Resto! dining experience wraps at the end of the month, but it may not be the last time you see Seamless hit the streets to highlight its restaurant partners. The brand hopes to turn its mobile restaurant into a platform akin to the Amazon Treasure Truck to shine a spotlight on those partners throughout the year. Sounds like a recipe for success. Agency: MKG, New York City.
Have a Seat in the Presto! Resto! truck:
Photo credit: Dorothy Hong