Boston Pizza All Meat Wings

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Boston Pizza International
Steve Silverstone: EVP, Marketing
Joanne Forrester: VP, Marketing
Tanya Thomson: Associate Marketing Manager

Agency Credits: TAXI Canada
Darren Clarke: Executive Creative Director
Niall Kelly: Associate Creative Director
Scott Johnson: Art Director
Chris Duffett: Writer
Brooke Hennessy: Designer
Dave Luxton: Associate Creative Director Interactive
Edith Rosa: Group Account Director
Anna Halfpenny: Account Director
Tamara Gervais, Natalie Street: Account Manager
Andre Louis: Agency Planner
Mike Rumble: Connections Planner
Adam Brain: Digital Strategist
Cynthia Heyd: VP, Integrated Production
Ben Sharpe: Broadcast Producer
Jen Shapiro: Print Producer
Lidiya Naydek: Interactive Producer
Esther Sanchez, Brooke Hennessy: Illustrator
Karthika Balendran: Mac Artist
Leslie Babin: Production Designer
Sons & Daughters: Production Company
Posterboy Edit: Editing Company
High Road Communications: PR Agency
Axyz: Post Production Company
Grayson Matthews: Audio Production Company
PHD: Media Company

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 6. Should the product be improved?
Crossover Note 12. Changing the Goalposts.
Crossover Note 17. Turning a liability into a strength.
Crossover Note 28. Media Learning.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):April–June 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: April 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: April–June 2011

a) Overall Assessment

When you’re called Boston Pizza (BP), it’s understandable that wings might not be your signature item. But to be competitive in the world of sports bars, a reputation for great wings is a must.

In 2010 Boston Pizza recognized that they needed to improve their chicken wings based on negative customer feedback. Knowing that one-third of their business is in their sports bar, the operations teams and corporate chef worked with their suppliers to find a better product, and changed their recipes across 360 restaurants.

This was followed by the launch of a national campaign leading into the 2011 NHL playoff time period, and the new wings were a hit. Finally Boston Pizza was on the map for great wings, resulting in 160% sales growth versus the previous year. In fact, they became the fastest-selling menu item in BP’s history.

After reaching wing greatness it was important to continue the momentum in 2012 and find a way to keep Boston Pizza top of mind as the destination for great wings during the NHL playoffs. The playoffs are an extremely cluttered time for both media and sports bar activity, so BP knew they needed to find a way to break through.

An innovative product would be the next logical step. [Crossover Note 6] In 2012, at the end of the research and development process, the big news ended up being boneless chicken wings. However, this was a far cry from being innovative, as boneless chicken wings have been around for a while and were offered by BP’s competitors. The challenge was to take an item everyone else offered and make it feel new. [Crossover Note 17] 

b) Resulting Business Objectives

In 2011 Boston Pizza had overcome the negative perception around their wings and became a player in the wings category. For 2012 the challenge was to find a way to become a leader in the boneless wing category. The following business objectives were set:

  1. Increase overall wings sales by 5% from April to June 2012 versus 2011.
  2. Keep Boston Pizza’s sports bar top of mind as the destination for great wings during the 2012 NHL playoffs.

c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area
National (Canada), excluding Quebec.

a) Analysis and Insight

We knew that our competitors offered boneless wings and that they were not news in the category. It was also discovered that boneless wings were a contentious subject with wings enthusiasts, who often debated whether they could actually be called wings. According to BP’s target, they aren’t true wings and are not necessarily perceived as a sports-bar-worthy menu item. Some say they are glorified chicken nuggets. So Boston Pizza needed to find a way to change that perception when launching their boneless wings, as well as make them more appealing to the target. 

This was a delicious challenge. We decided that in order to break through and be seen as a leader we needed to avoid the debate altogether -- and reinvent the boneless wing entirely. [Crossover Note 12]

b) Communication Strategy

Rebranding the boneless chicken wing as a major food discovery would give Boston Pizza the opportunity to launch in a big newsworthy way.

The target was the current Boston Pizza customers. He’s the dad and dude, aged 25 to 54, who comes in with his family on a weekday and is back with his buddies for a pint on Saturday night. He is a big sports fan, and the NHL playoffs are the perfect reason to go to BP to catch the game, have a beer, and eat some wings. 

The  NHL playoffs were the perfect moment to introduce the new re-invented product. Sports-bar traffic would be high, and we wanted to use a time frame when we were guaranteed a captive audience. This was critical, as hockey fans were not only tuning in to multiple games each week, but they were also making decisions each week as to where to watch the games. We also knew that social media was important to our audience, and we wanted to find a way to ensure our communications spread through social channels.


a) Media Used

  • TV
  • Radio
  • PR
  • In-store POS
  • Facebook
  • Online and pre-roll
  • YouTube
  • Xbox 

b) Creative Discussion

The birth of Terry Peters and the introduction of ALL MEAT WINGS™

The launch centred on Terry Peters, an internationally renowned (though entirely fictitious) food innovator. He is one part Tony Stark, one part Kenny Powers, and one part Steve Jobs. He is best known for creating over 400 new foods, such as the seedless watermelon and piggies in a blanket. This year he teamed up with Boston Pizza to create a chicken wing that would revolutionize watching hockey and drinking beer with buddies. It was a crowning achievement --  the world’s first ALL MEAT WINGS (AMW).

There were two phases of the campaign. Phase One consisted of a seeding strategy, where we introduced Terry Peters to a select few and created some speculation around the food innovation to come. Phase Two was the announcement.


We needed to make sure the world knew who Terry Peters was, and why he is a big deal. For this purpose, we created social profiles for Terry and he became active in social media. We used the LinkedIn channel to highlight his professional accomplishments, career highlights, accreditations, and awards. Twitter was where he mused about the world around him, quoted famous innovators, and hinted about what he was up to. A Facebook profile was created to include his professional experience and was used for Terry Peters to occasionally answer questions about ALL MEAT WINGS™ after the launch. 

(Please see Exhibit #1)

As part of the PR push, we reached out to famous wing bloggers, for example, Lord of the Wings, and invited them to an exclusive prelaunch ALL MEAT WINGS™ tasting. After their experience, they helped spread the word about ALL MEAT WINGS™ on their blogs and gave their audiences a sneak peek into what was to come.

(Please see Exhibit #2)

Once Terry Peters’s profile was seeded throughout the web, we sent out a message to Boston Pizza’s 300,000 plus newsletter subscribers. For this announcement, we wanted to give our fans an exclusive look at the food innovation to generate some buzz and excitement around ALL MEAT WINGS™. Prelaunch, we sent them an exclusive teaser newsletter, informing them that innovation was coming from Boston Pizza, in partnership with Terry Peters, and enticing them to visit us on Facebook to receive an announcement reminder and a chance to win free wings for a year. We also used this great opportunity to migrate BP’s email subscribers to their national Facebook page.

(Please see Exhibit #3)

The national Facebook tab showcased a countdown clock that counted down the days to the ALL MEAT WINGS™ launch.

(Please see Exhibit #4)

Once the campaign launched, a second email was sent to Boston Pizza’s subscribers with the announcement that the innovation was here and included the introduction of ALL MEAT WINGS™. The email also provided a link to BP’s Facebook page and the option to order the wings to experience them personally.

(Please see Exhibit #5)

The second phase of the Facebook tab included a 60-second TV spot, Terry Peters’s bio, and his food innovation gallery. The tab included a contest where fans could enter daily to win a $25 gift card, simply by submitting their food innovation ideas.
(Please see Exhibit #6)

Standard IAB banners also launched with a highly visible presence on sports-themed websites, like and The call to action on the banners was focused on trial, and the click-through took the user to a campaign-themed landing page at

(Please see Exhibit #7 and #8)


On television, the launch of ALL MEAT WINGS™ was treated like the launch of a new Apple product and included 60-, 30-, and 15-second spots. On a grand stage at a star-studded event, in typical Terry Peters fashion, he unveiled the new ALL MEAT WINGS™ to an excited crowd of loyal fans cheering him on, with a huge LED screen standing behind him, heralding his accomplishments.

(Please see Exhibit #9)


An Xbox presence was also part of the digital media plan. Within the Xbox console, gamers could watch the 60-second spot, as well as see Terry Peters’s food innovation gallery. They could view the spot and the gallery before or after playing a game. A Terry Peters avatar was created, a first for Xbox in Canada.  Users could “friend” Terry Peters and download his avatar to use on their personal consoles. 

(Please see Exhibit #10)


YouTube was used to increase communication of Boston Pizza’s new ALL MEAT WINGS™.

(Please see Exhibit #11)


A 30-second radio spot, titled “Epic Announcement,” was developed to introduce and celebrate ALL MEAT WINGS™. The spot included an epic-sounding voice, backed by a children’s choir, boasting about the profound food innovation from Boston Pizza.

(Please see Exhibit #12)


A POS kit was delivered to restaurants, which included a teaser poster communicating to guests that a food innovation was coming on April 9, 2012. The poster was in-market for one week prior to launch. When the launch hit, POS communicated AMW in a big bold way.

(Please see Exhibit #13) 

Exhibit-1_BP_AMW_Social profiles

Exhibit-2_BP_AMW_Blogger outreach

Exhibit-3_BP_AMW_Phase 1 newsletter

Exhibit-4_BP_AMW_Phase 1 National Facebook page

Exhibit-5_BP_AMW_Phase 2 newsletter

Exhibit-6_BP_AMW_Phase 2 National Facebook page

Exhibit-7_BP_AMW_Standard online banners






c) Media Discussion

On April 9, 2012, the ALL MEAT WINGS™ campaign launched with a 60-second and a 30-second TV spot during the first week. The 30- and 15-seconds spots continued to run until June. The TV ads were dedicated to the NHL playoff schedule to ensure national presence throughout that time frame on TSN and CBC.   

A 30-second radio spot also launched on April 9 and was supported through Orbyt Media stations. 

Standard IAB banners, along with pre-roll, kicked off the digital activity in April and ran for eight weeks on sports sites, including, ESPN, Yahoo Sports,, CBC Sports, Sportsnet, and Score Mobile. Xbox Live was also part of the media buy, launching in tandem with the digital buy.

(Please see Exhibit #14) 


a) Sales/Share Results

ALL MEAT WINGS™ was off to an amazing start. Within the first week of the campaign launch, sales reached +43.3% versus a year ago (VYA). By the campaign end, wings sales reached as high as +54.7% VYA, exceeding the goal of +5% VYA. More than 50% of total wings sold were ALL MEAT WINGS™. They were massively popular and clearly created a behavioural shift. The average guest-count goal of +3% VYA was reached and equalled 3.3% in the sports bar. ALL MEAT WINGS™ helped continue the momentum of Boston Pizza being seen as the destination for great wings during the NHL playoffs.  

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

In addition to the immediate in-restaurant sales, our success in social media was an indicator of how effective the ALL MEAT WINGS™ campaign was.

The Facebook contest also generated great results. In Phase One, total entries were 5,838; in Phase Two, total entries were 23,249. During the prelaunch drive, Boston Pizza had its largest one-day gain of fans, an increase of 985% versus BP’s average daily new-fan growth. All of this was organic, unpaid growth.

During the campaign, over two million organic impressions were generated on Facebook. Of those, 830,000 were viral impressions created by BP fans through sharing comments and “likes.” BP fans were highly engaged: BP broke their engagement benchmark of 0.05% and reached an engagement rate of 0.16%.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Media spend was consistent with the amount spent last year during this time.


Wing menu pricing was not changed, discounted, or increased. Boston Pizza was competing with the all-you-can-eat and half-price wing nights of their competitors. Boston Pizza was able to stand out by communicating a non-offer message, and more importantly, they didn’t need a price discount to compete.

Distribution Changes:

There were no distribution changes made at the time of the campaign. Each franchise operated under the same marketing plan and execution schematic. Geographic coverage remained national in scope, excluding Quebec.

Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes:

Of course, the new product played an important role, but given that boneless wings were anything but a new idea it's reasonable to conclude that the "re-invention idea" was the key driver of success.