La Carnita Story

How do you avoid failure when opening a restaurant in one of the toughest markets in North America? It’s simple, you get a devout following before you get a kitchen. That was the basic idea behind La Carnita. Andrew wanted to quit his job and open a restaurant but knew this would be a big risk. So we helped him reduce the risk by creating a demand for his restaurant before it even existed. We did this by creating an allusive brand, developing a targeted influencer campaign across various social media, and redefining the ‘pop-up’ food model that was just starting to become a ‘thing.’ For us this meant popping up in various locations to sell limited edition custom street art paired with a limited amount of Andrew’s tacos.

As for how that all broke down, it began with this video that we spread through our own social channels:

We hosted the video on a stripped down Tumblr page and then created a Twitter account and Foursquare location. Our next move was to make a massive poster of our logo and put it up before our pop-ups, like a bat symbol for foodies. From there, we created custom art prints, made some tacos, popped-up, and sold out.


The entire process was live-tweeted and buzz grew exponentially. People wanted t-shirts, so we made them. Artists wanted to collaborate with us, so we collaborated with them, and grew our audience by tapping into their networks. And, lots of people posted photos on Instagram and Twitter. Lots. So we created a Facebook page where we posted everything our audience shared, all sorted by pop-up. But beyond all the digital collateral we created to promote La Carnita, the experience itself was the main driver to the campaign’s success. People loved it; lining up with like-minded strangers, getting to visit a disappearing restaurant, participating in something that may or may not be illegal, scoring some limited edition work of art from a street artist, and yes, eating some delicious tacos.

This process repeated 18 times, always growing and always selling out. La Carnita received lots of press (below) and partnered with dozens of influential chefs, artists, and local venues. Since then, the story has cointinued to unravel, resulting in more press, more success, and way more tacos. And 11 months later, Andrew  opened up a fully functioning restaurant, one of the city’s busiest and most talked about spots. The rest of the story can be found in the bullets below (campaign highlights and media links) but the key takeaway is that we used  a highly targeted Twitter campaign to not only create buzz for our agency, but to also create an actual restaurant.

The Highlights

In its first six months, La Carnita:

  • Was featured by Canada’s top news publishers: The Toronto Star, National Post, CBC, and The Globe and Mail, who named La Carnita one of the top 10 new small businesses
  • Appeared in Toronto’s top culture magazines: Toronto Life, The Grid, NOW Magazine, Marketing Magazine, and Applied Arts
  • Catered events with music groups The National and Neko Case, and a Kahlua liqueur event
  • Was Featured in over 25 food, trend, and culture blogs in Canada and the USA
  • Amassed 3,200+ Twitter followers and averaged over one @mention per minute during each pop-up

In the last six months, La Carnita:

  • Now boasts more followers (currently at 6,400+) than Beauty & Essex in NYC
  • Has been featured in 19 food, trend, and culture blogs in Toronto
  • Hosted UNO, an art + music + food event in Toronto, with a crowd of 3,000+ people (200% above expectation), #UNO trended on Twitter, and covered by The Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, and Grid TO.
  • Has opened a permanent location at 501 College Street in Toronto with a two-hour wait most nights
  • Named #3 best new restaurant in Toronto by BlogTO

The Coverage



~ by forevertwelve on April 19, 2013.


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