When COVID-19 spread through the United States, it stirred up so much irrational bias and distain for the Asian community because of where the virus originated. The Asian community suffered discrimination, threats, harrassments, and even violence. Many restaurants took a big hit during the pandemic, but especially Asian-owned businesses and restaurants because of blind associations people were making between coronavirus and Asians. As a team, Stage 13 wanted to figure out what we could do to help the Asian community, especially considering our work and connections to the Asian community through our show, "Family Style", which is all about Asian food and pop culture, hosted by eight Asian Americans we call the "Foodie Fam." Stage 13 is a studio within Warner Bros. focused on diverse content with diverse talent in front and behind the camera. The objective was to steer the conversations away from the negative sentiment and re-focus and celebrate the Asian community during this hardship, particularly around food, because we know first-hand that food brings people together and often serves as an introduction to culture, ultimately driving business for Asian-owned restaurants across the nation.
We knew we had to act fast and keep the campaign as turnkey as possible given how quickly the drop in business these restaurants were experiencing and the uncertainty of when it would be returning back to “normal”.
The strategy was to create and develop our #stage13supports campaign to show our support and solidarity with the Asian community through our network. The idea sprouted from our show "Family Style," which we leveraged to establish a Facebook Group, Family Style Foodie Fans, centered around support and positivity for Asian-owned restaurants. We asked group members to share menus, locations, information, pictures of food from their favorite local Asian restaurants and to tag them highlighting the establishment and bringing attention that they're still open for business.
To facilitate some of the conversations, we posted clips from "Family Style" which showcased the local L.A. restaurants and we made sure to engage with all of the fans who posted and commented. We would tag the restaurants not only on the Foodie Fans Facebook Group, but also post the clips to our Stage 13 Facebook page, Family Style Facebook page, and our Stage 13 Instagram to maximize our audience reach raising awareness of the Group and restaurants.
Our Group quickly grew with fans joining from across the country and around the world! This pivoted our strategy a bit to be more open, as we wanted the Group to be as large, inclusive, and active as possible to drive positivity and business for Asian-owned restaurants. We kept the group very active and lively and it exceeded our expectations very quickly. Given the positive reception, we ramped up our efforts in May, which is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, with growing membership and digital events fostering a positive environment for everyone going forward! With the growth of the Group, we got participation and support from the Family Style cast, WarnerMedia, AT&T, two non-profit organizations, restaurants, a local hospital, a youth center and many others. It grew to much more than just posting on a Facebook Group!
The development of the #stage13supports campaign along with the Facebook Group led us to a partnership with the internal Business Resource Group at WarnerMedia, NAPA (Network for Asian Pacific Americans), who created the “Family Style Challenge” where every time an employee would share a meal in the Foodie Fan Facebook Group, NAPA would donate a meal to frontline healthcare workers at local hospitals. From this challenge, we were able to partner and order from the Asian-fusion restaurant in season one of "Family Style," Bopomofo Cafe (from one of the co-founders of Wong Fu Productions) as well as Bone Kettle to donate meals to a local hospital and the Asian Youth Center!
We partnered with the organization Act to Change to cross-promote and support their plethora of talent-driven digital discussions and panels with the Asian community around topics such as anti-bullying, LGBTQIA+ Asian youth, and more during COVID-19.
This initiative is quite unique as it’s our first time using a Facebook Group to cultivate conversations like this, and to have our fans come together for a timely cause. It was a way for us to organically use our small means for a big impact on a community that really needed support.
The results of this initiative well exceeded our goals within the first week of launch and beyond!
In the first two months of the Facebook Group launch, we had almost 500 members from over 100 cities globally, and upward of 21,000 engagements (comments, posts, reactions, etc), all organically without any spend (there's currently no paid promotion option for Facebook Groups).
In addition to the internal partnerships, we were also able to partner with the Atlanta based non-profit We Love BuHi who led a digital panel with some of our show producers, cast, and Stage 13 employees about the show and current events in the Asian community around COVID-19, furthering our message and goal.
With the buzz around the featured restaurants highlighted in our Group, we were able to help StopBye Café re-open in the LA area and generate business!