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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Dine On

Entered in Local Campaign


In the summer of 2022, OpenTable set out to be the catalyst for the recovery of Toronto’s COVID impacted restaurant scene. First and foremost, this was a matter of driving diners back to local restaurants, bringing back their love of dining out. By proxy, this would drive more bookings through the OpenTable reservation system.   

 In Canada, we found that OpenTable’s awareness was low compared to its other markets, indicating that its restaurant-goers didn’t consider using the platform when making their reservations. With the restaurant industry already in a state of turmoil, uncertainty and diminished traffic, it became all the more crucial for OpenTable to become part of people’s everyday lives, a fixture within the community and a supporter of local businesses and show how invested they are in aiding Toronto’s COVID recovery.    

 Knowing that Torontonians have a great deal of pride in their city and its local businesses and are more likely to support them rather than a corporate chain, we knew that our campaign had to focus on the Toronto food scene, highlighting OpenTable’s commitment to helping with its recovery.  

To get Torontonians to accept OpenTable as one of their own, we would need to reach them in way that would resonate with this local audience, focusing on restaurants by featuring them right in the ad, allowing locals to know that we walked the talk when it came to supporting the Toronto scene. The media had to do the heavy lifting when it came to making it uniquely Canadian, and more specifically uniquely Toronto.  

Strategy and Execution

Knowing OpenTable had a lot to accomplish at all levels of the funnel, we developed a “High, Wide, and Deep” approach, ensuring that every tactic had a specific role in driving business results.   

 HIGH - Focus on high-impact media placements, providing breakthrough by reaching millions of Torontonians.  

We executed a streetcar domination running through the heart of Toronto specifically through the middle of our priority neighborhoods. Often just feet away from busy patios, streetcars allowed OpenTable to be a constant message within Toronto’s popular patio culture.  

Next, we took over one of Toronto’s biggest superboards along the Gardiner Expressway, the busiest street amongst Torontonians looking to get around the city. With OpenTable’s “Dine On” message being featured throughout the spring and summer, we were able to provide a daily reminder of OpenTable’s commitment to local restaurants in Toronto. 

 WIDE – Wide reaching media placements that allow OpenTable to reach people across the entire city of Toronto 

This layer of the campaign was anchored by Toronto specific video creative run across YouTube, Tik Tok and Meta, highlighting some of Toronto’s favorite, and most talked about restaurants. To build off of these videos, we worked with BlogTO to curate custom articles to promote the extensive “Toronto Dining Guides” we had put together featuring some of the most talked about restaurants around the city.  

Rounding this out was a digital out of home buy that covered all of Toronto. This buy, along with the social push and online articles, allowed our message to go WIDE, reaching people in all corners of the city, from Parkdale to Jane and Finch, from Hillside to Centennial Park.  

 DEEP – Designed to speak directly to Torontonians using placements deeply routed in our priority markets. 

In order to speak directly to local audiences, we hand-picked OOH locations which would go on to feature creatives with the names of restaurants in that very area location-specific creative, often on the same street.  

While these OOH executions did a great job of further highlighting local favorites, we needed to provide OpenTable a voice that local audiences would recognize as their own. In order to deliver this voice, we partnered with some of Toronto’s most popular influencers in the food/culture space, such as Matt/Omar & MissFoodieTO, giving them the freedom to share their experience with OpenTable in a voice that was authentically Toronto. This spoke to our audience to tell them that not only does OpenTable want to get Torontonians back on the restaurant scene and using their service, but they also cared about them doing so in a way that felt authentic to them and their experience of living in Toronto. 


During the time of this campaign, Toronto saw a huge return to dining with many people returning to their favorite restaurants for the first time in months or even years. The role that OpenTable played in this recovery cannot be understated, which is made evident by the great results the brand saw across all objectives including awareness, familiarity and most importantly intent to book. 

When looking at OpenTable’s results, we were able to drive a 23% lift in ad recall, double that of our benchmark. This shows that the high impact placements used throughout the campaign were able to do their job in making this campaign memorable.  

By going wide and reaching all parts of Toronto with OpenTable messaging, we were able to not only execute a memorable campaign but also establish OpenTable as a part of the community with a 9% lift in familiarity amongst Toronto restaurant goers.  

Finally, we made huge strides in being a deeply local brand by executing a Toronto specific creator campaign that drove 10+ million impressions and 55k+ engagements, followed up by a custom content series that outperformed time on page benchmarks by 2x. By resonating with the local market, these tactics helped to drive an increase of 83% in intent to book YoY.  

Overall, we were successful with integrating OpenTable as part of the Toronto community and as a key player in the relationship between diners and restaurants. Not only is OpenTable better off as a result, but the Toronto food scene is as well.   





Entrant Company / Organization Name

Media Experts, OpenTable


Entry Credits