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Outback Steakhouse grills up Instagram-only content to showcase steak authority

Outback Steakhouse is bolstering sales of its signature steak dishes by delivering Instagram-only content to mobile users that is designed to highlight the flavors, sights and sounds that make the restaurant an authority on steak, proving that national chains must have a stronghold on social media when promoting menu items.

The multi-platform “Bold at Steak” campaign also includes television spots, in-restaurant point-of-sale materials, and digital advertising, but is aimed to appeal directly to social media users’ taste buds with rich photography. Outback Steakhouse claims to be the premiere casual dining brand to leverage a media buy with Instagram, cementing its dedication to becoming more mobile-friendly and reaching the millennial demographic with relevant advertisements.

“Leveraging social media to reach our consumers is extremely important to us,” said John Schaufelberger, chief marketing officer of Outback Steakhouse, Tampa, FL. “In addition to print, TV and digital advertising, we will be supporting the ‘Bold at Steak’ campaign across our entire social media portfolio including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help visualize our steak culture and bring the campaign to life.

“We’re excited to be the first casual dining restaurant to run a media buy with Instagram, helping us to reach the millions of consumers that look to the app for food and dining inspiration on a daily basis.”

Creative on Instagram
Consumers may begin spotting Outback Steakhouse sponsored ads on their Instagram feeds, featuring the brand’s new dishes, such as the Wood-Fire Grilled Flat Iron Steak and the Outback Sirloin Portabella. Its dedicated spend with Instagram, a popular photo-sharing application, suggests that other casual dining restaurants may be quick to follow in its footsteps.

Many retailers have long been rolling out sponsored ads to showcase new lines, sales or calls-to-action to interact with customers, but the space has been noticeably lacking content from restaurants. As many consumers enjoy perusing Instagram for dining and food inspiration, the platform is very well-suited to promoting new menu items.

The ads will also likely yield more positive interactions than any other kind of mobile advertisement, due to the organic nature of sharing delectable dishes on Instagram.

“Through this particular campaign, we will be featuring mouthwatering food photography appropriate for the Instagram community that will highlight our expertise in cooking techniques, steak varieties and steak moments that only Outback can deliver,” Mr. Schaufelberger said.

The “Bold at Steak” campaign also includes in-restaurant steak training recertification for all employees, to showcase its commitment to being the premiere steak authority. The restaurant chain has even created a petition on the White House’s Web site to make steak the official “First Food” of the United States.

The petition is being promoted on Outback’s social media channels to ensure the highest amount of virtual signatures.

Mobile outlook
Outback’s strong mobile component to the national campaign will also contribute to the widest consumer outreach possible. Although the campaign will be supplemented by a slew of in-restaurant, television and digital materials, Outback’s recent push for mobile is undeniable.

This past October, Outback streamlined the reservations and waiting process for consumers with the introduction of its Click Thru Seating feature, available on Outback’s 365 mobile application and online (see story). To sign up for a reservation and view current wait times, consumers can visit or use the 365 app to sign up for a time slot or change it if they are behind schedule.

However, the Instagram ads offer a boost to its social media strategy that will likely aid in bolstering sales of steak menu items.

“We are rotating through sponsored ads for the next several weeks that visualize and reinforce our steak expertise and what makes us the steak authority,” Mr. Schaufelberger said. “Each ad showcases a different steak moment, cooking technique or cut including our Natural Cut Bone-In Ribeye and Filet Portabella.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York