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The Franco team created and deployed an integrated communications program, combining earned, owned, paid and shared media to gain pre, during and post grand opening awareness and results for one of Buddy’s Pizza’s most anticipated grand openings – the first location in downtown Detroit.


Utilize a variety of integrated communications tactics (all of which had to seamlessly work together and support each other) to make a big splash announcing Buddy’s opening in downtown Detroit.



Buddy’s Pizza prides itself on being a partner with each community it enters. For most grand openings, the team partners with one or two community organizations to give back through opening day sale donations or other donations. For the downtown Detroit grand opening, we chose to collaborate with another Detroit original and longtime Buddy’s partner – Motown Museum. Buddy’s donated 100% of opening day sales to the organization to support its community programs.

Franco also worked with The Detroit Institute of Arts and The Parade Company to give away free pizza to their guests through social media and email newsletters. The Parade Company contest received more than 76 entries across Facebook and Instagram.

Results: We presented an $11,000 check to Motown Museum, which included all opening day sales. Buddy’s Pizza considered this grand opening very successful when compared with other grand openings in metro Detroit.

Earned Media

With months of organic buzz surrounding the location announcements, Franco leveraged the excitement and timed all earned media distributions to gain the largest amount of coverage for a grand opening that Buddy’s has received to date. We leveraged longtime relationships with the media, along with establishing new relationships.

We coordinated an exclusive interview with the Detroit Free Press to be the first outlet to release the official grand opening date and interview Buddy’s new CEO Burton Heiss. Our team followed the announcement by releasing the date with a quote from Burton with other outlets. One week after the announcement, we hosted 13 media outlets at a media preview event.

Leading up to the grand opening, we secured and coordinated a segment on Live in the D and an interview with Paul W. Smith on WJR-AM. On the day of the grand opening, TV and radio stations were in attendance to conduct interviews and gather b-roll.

Extended Coverage

Our team extended coverage by hosting a check presentation from Buddy’s Pizza to Motown Museum one month after the grand opening.

On the day of the check presentation, the Local News Sharing (LNS) camera was in attendance for WXYZ and WJBK FOX 2. We also secured another placement in the Detroit News through post-event follow ups.

Results: The Franco team secured more than 140 total earned media mentions across print, broadcast and online channels.

Social Media

Our team strategized a way to utilize Buddy’s dedicated fan base to create an initiative that would excite fans while increasing online conversation – a social media scavenger hunt.

Over a one-week period, we placed 100 Buddy’s branded music records around prominent landmarks in downtown Detroit with location clues given in real time on Buddy’s social channels. The record automatically got participants a free 4-square pizza, but they could enter to win free pizza for one year by sharing a photo of the record on their channels tagging #BuddysDowntown and following Buddy’s. Activating the individuals who found the records to share the photos on social media allowed the brand to reach new audiences through user’s personal social media accounts.

There was a large increase in direct conversation and engagement on all social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) as we engaged with fans in a timely manner, increasing brand mentions across all platforms.

Results: During the month leading up to the grand opening, the Buddy’s Pizza social channel (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) metrics skyrocketed, including:

  • Added nearly 700 new organic followers
  • Achieved more than 25,000 engagements
  • Received more than 5,180 link clicks
  • Generated more than 1.2 million impressions

Digital and Traditional Advertising

The advertising plan for this grand opening was more robust than other grand openings. Our program included:

  • Social Advertising
    • Facebook hiring ads to direct potential hires to the Buddy’s Pizza careers page generated more than 1,540 web visits to the hiring page.
    • Lead generation ads garnered more than 600 new email addresses in two weeks, building the database for the new location.
    • Store visit location ads generated 221,205 impressions, tracking customers’ behavior and number of guests visiting the downtown store.
  • Outdoor Billboards
    • Designed and worked with our outdoor advertising partner to strategically place billboards around the city.
  • Google Search
    • Search ads promoting the new location generated more than 2,000 website visits.
  • Radio Advertising
    • Brand awareness ads for the new carry-out concept across six local Detroit radio stations.

Email Marketing

The Franco team leveraged Buddy’s strong email database of 71,980 email club subscribers to send a downtown Detroit opening specific e-blast.

Results: Achieved an email open rate of 64% compared to the 13% industry average open rates for food and beverage email newsletters.

Web Analytics

We created several UTM codes to measure website traffic leads. The downtown location page was updated with all grand opening information, taking advantage of our owned platform. We also leveraged the record scavenger hunt to drive fans to the downtown page.

Results: In total, 161 new users visited the website via UTM codes with a low bounce rate of 60%. The new downtown Detroit location page received more than 12,000 pageviews from 10,000 users. Through the scavenger hunt, the location page received more than 220 pageviews from 200 users.

Community Activation

Buddy’s has always been very engaged in the local community. Franco established relationships with local coffee shops on behalf of Buddy’s to surprise all customers for one day by covering the cost of their coffee. Franco designed coffee sleeves and leave-behind flyers for use at the coffee shops.

Both coffee shops and guests were surprised and thrilled by this activation, and the initiative created affinity for Buddy’s throughout the surrounding community. One coffee shop had such strong word-of-mouth promotion that it experienced the highest sales day of the year.

Event Planning

To give the media an advanced inside look of the new location, Franco coordinated a media preview event one week before opening, handling all coordination including inviting media, securing/coordinating interviews, running point on all communication with Motown Museum and coordinating Buddy’s, Motown and Bedrock (Madison Building owner) speakers at the event.

Due to extensive excitement around the grand opening, the Franco team ran point on taking reservations through email (promoted via social media channels and earned media coverage) to ensure the grand opening would have a full house, while also managing expectations and crowds.

To increase donations to Motown Museum, Franco planned a VIP party for the evening of grand opening (including performances from Motown Museum program artists). Guests enjoyed strolling Buddy’s fare – the Original Detroit-Style Pizza, appetizers and cocktails.

Results: Franco secured 96 reservations the week leading up to the grand opening. The VIP event had more than 50 attendees.


The Franco team was challenged to create a downtown-specific brand treatment. The team spent numerous hours updating previous assets and creating brand new materials to have one seamless outcome. Designed marketing materials included:

  • Billboards
  • Flyers at coffee shops
  • T-shirts
  • Restaurant kids menu
  • Social media graphics