The Yellow Pages Treehouse Restaurant story!

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To prove that anyone could get any job done in New Zealand using the Yellow Pages, the marketing team of Yellow Pages challenged an unknown accordion player to build a restaurant… Ten meters up a tree!

CAN YOU JUGGLE?
In August 2008, Yellow Pages put out the following job offer: ”We require a project managing, restaurant operating, television presenter!”

Over 200 applicants made home videos detailing why Yellow Pages should pick them for this rather bizarre but unique opportunity and eventually a lady by the name of Tracey Collins won the right to show what she was made of.

Tracey’s task was “simple”: Use only the Yellow Pages listings (the book, online and mobile) to build a restaurant in a tree. To boost awareness of the campaign, the Yellow Pages created a comprehensive marketing and advertising strategy to let everyone know what they were doing. Once the project got underway, Tracey based herself in an old redwood forest where the project would unfold and began calling on businesses around New Zealand listed in Yellow Pages to help her.

PEOPLE LOVE TO ENGAGE WITH CREATIVE MARKETING
As construction got underway, Yellow Pages kept followers updated with regular info about the treehouse via their website which garnered over 150,000 unique visitors each month.

Two popular features of the website were Tracey’s daily blog as well as an ongoing picture gallery of all the progress. Every business that contributed to the project was recognized on the site and a link enabled visitors to see each of their Yellow Pages listings.

As the project progressed, it gained more and more media interest in New Zealand and around the world as it featured on over 10,000 different websites including Kanye West’s blog of cool stuff.

LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WALKING…
In the end, more than 65 listed businesses in the Yellow Pages were involved in the project; from the architects and builders to the printer of the menus, even the guy who crafted table coasters from left-over wood.

Despite the curve-ball of having to build a 30-meter wheelchair access ramp to comply with council building consent, on the 13th of December 2008, Tracey opened the 30-seater treehouse restaurant for bookings. Within hours, every day of January was booked for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Over the following month, more than 2,000 people were dined in the restaurant while thousands more stopped by the incredible sight to take photos and gaze on this unique and creative marketing project.

Research showed Yellow Pages brand measures had moved in all the desired directions – Unprompted brand awareness increased by 37% and this campaign was at least three times more effective than any other Yellow Pages campaign.

Yellow Pages Treehouse Restaurant

LET THIS BE A LESSON
This specific tale might be seven years old but the lessons learned are timeless. At the end of the marketing funnel are real people, not robots. And these people respond to marketing that talks to them like they’re living, breathing people.

More than ever I believe marketing is all about telling a good story. It’s why I do what I do. Long live creative and engaging marketing!

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY: MARK SHAM
Mark Sham is the owner and founder of Suits & Sneakers and believes emphatically in informal learning and human development. You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter!

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Mark is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and also founder of the Impello incubation hub. Mark loves to travel the world and is hell bent on disrupting education for people of all ages.