The Waffle Shop The Conflict KitchenGreat Content Marketing2 Great Case Studies
The waffle shop is all about content creationand you can find that content system all over.
A retail experiment which takes a “content centric” approach to marketingThe term “content centric” doesn’t quite capture what it’s all about, a more correctreflection would be to say that the content has become just as much one of TheWaffle Shop’s products as the waffles themselvesThe philosophy behind the project is that innovative and great content creation willultimately drive consumers to their retail locations.
Open TalkCook SpeakWaffle WoppVideo Archive and Channel featuring all the episodes from the shows.Billboards on the roof supported with it’s own website:www.waffleshopbillboard.orgWaffles, which are served between 11pm and 3am every Friday andSaturday
Waffle Wopp: teenagers host and produce the show, focussing on eclecticguests, live music and fun, “the interviews have become a favouriteamong the Waffle Shop’s audience”.Open Talk: allows anyone and everyone to take the to the Waffle Shopstage where they can talk about any topic.Cook Speak: presented by local Pittsburgh cook Tom Totin, who shareshis unique culinary commentary.
Featured videos | A live feed | The chat function | Video archives | PhotosThis spreads the Waffle Shop’s content far further than Pittsburgh itself and ishelping to spread the Waffle Shop messages.… In fact, herein lies the true genius behind the Waffle Shop’s content, it iscontent layered upon content (and context)…
A 36 foot long billboard on the roof of the Waffle Shop.Each month a different person is invited to use the custom designed billboardAlso known as “The Last Billboard”, it is curated by Lenka Clayton and JonRubin and it was designed by Pablo Garcia and Jon Rubin.
The Waffle Shop is indeed a restaurant, but because of it’s contentproduction it’s also a TV production studio, a business and a classroom.The Carnegie Mellon University students can express their ideas andopinions and try them out in front of the waffle shop customers who act asthe panel of critics needed to push the boundaries of content creation!The entire concept of the Waffle Shop content experiment was the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon professor, Jon Rubin who is reported by AndrewDavis as saying that the experiment invited students to “create a culturalexperience that adds something new to the city” and to learn about“working collaboratively with the community members”.
“The shop was a public lab that brought together people from all walks of life to engage in dialogue, experimentation and the co-production of culture. The project functioned as an eatery, a TV production studio, a social catalyst, and a business. Our customers were our funders, audience, and participants as we filmed during open hours, inviting interested patrons to express their unique opinions and personalities”.What this captures is the Waffle Shop’s true engagement with their patrons who were asmuch a part of it as anyone else - that’s the level of connection all brands should aspire to.
The programmes have become an equalreason, if not the primary reason why peoplevisit the waffle shop.The shows are truly engaging and take theirlead focus from the customers taking part.This approach to content creation ensuresthey produce content that is constantlyoriginal, new and exciting, and mostimportantly their content is relevant to theiraudience.The content produced is of such a highquality, it is able to stand alone from theWaffle Shop restaurant and website, on it’sown dedicated websites.
Directly linked from the Waffle Shop’s website, is the Conflict Kitchen.The Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisinefrom countries with which the United States is in conflict. It serves to educate consumers about the details of the country in question and it’s conflict with the USA.
• The take-out style storefront circulates identities every 6 months to highlight a different country, and uses food and packaging to educate people about the country central to each iteration of the project.• With every change in the Conflict Kitchen’s cuisine, a new food wrapper is produced relating to that country• The project is also augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. These events have included live international Skype dinner parties.
• The wrapper is from the Cuban version of the conflict kitchen.• It introduces customers to the food, culture, and thoughts of people living in Cuba and those that have immigrated to the U.S.• This wrapper, take out boxes and stickers used to package the food was developed in collaboration with members of the Cuban community.• Therefore the packaging includes interviews with Cubans on subjects ranging from the U.S. economic embargo to Cuba’s relationship with other global players.
Live Skype Meal between Pittsburgh andTehran on April 28th, 2012 at noon.The meal was held with the ConflictKitchen customers (USA) and peopleinvolved with the Sazmanab Project(Tehran).The meal invited diners in both cities tocreate an international dinner party -connected via webcam.The same Persian recipes were made ateach location, so food and conversationwas shared.
Operating seven days a week in the middle of the city, Conflict Kitchen reformats the pre- existing social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of U.S. politics and the narrow lens of media headlines”.Just like the Waffle Shop, the Conflict Kitchen relies in the interactions between theircustomers as heavily as the content itself, without the discussions and engagement aboutthe countries and cultures involved, the Conflict Kitchen is just a take out place.
This close association between two content driven organisations, theWaffle Shop and the Conflict Kitchen emphasizes the “content centric”approach of each one individually as well as emphasizing it as a whole. Like the Waffle Shop, the Conflict Kitchen is more than just a restaurantit’s also a place of education and more importantly debate.Every aspect of the restaurant is functional: the food, menu, wrapper andsignage all serves to better explain the conflict in question.
Debate, engagement and discussion is driven by the food wrappersespecially because they are compiled from the thoughts and opinions ofthose directly involved or affected by the conflict.As the content on the food wrapper come from interviews with realpeople, it is often contradictory and complicated by personal perspectiveand even history.The Conflict Kitchen successfully embraces these natural contradictionsto balance and reflect a nuanced range of thought within each countryfurther driving questioning, conversation, and debate among theircustomers.
The International Skype Dinner, serves to further the Conflict Kitchen’sreach and influence by connecting with other organisations across theworldIt also allows the participants to gain a greater understanding of thecultures, thoughts and opinions of the people living in countries that are inconflict with the U.S. by directly connecting these people.The events can be spread beyond just those who were present by postingit on the Conflict Kitchen website for everyone to view and discuss.This is an example of using one initial piece of content – the Skypedinner, to create many more pieces of content e.g. a video, a blog postetc.
The point to take on board from these two related examples of truly greatcontent creation is that when done cleverly, effectively andwholeheartedly, content creation can be married with the retailexperience to such an extent, that that content can become a part of theproduct just as much as anything else.By relating, linking and connecting to the great content created by oneanother, these 2 businesses are emphasizing the importance and powerof that content twofold. Greatness by associated helps build greatness bydefault.To end on a final quote from Andrew Davis’s article “What If You SoldWaffle’s With A Side Of Content?”: Without the live streaming show,there’s no Waffle Shop. Without a conflict that needs to be understood,there’s no Conflict Kitchen.