#WhiskeyWednesday - Celebrating the Franchise Family

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Whiskey Wednesday

As Americans stayed home to flatten the curve during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 919 Marketing worked in tandem with the #franchisefam to keep the franchise community in touch virtually during this unprecedented time.

Working remotely and quarantining at home made many people seek alternative ways to stay connected. Drive-by birthday celebrations, front porch dance parties, virtual book clubs and graduation parades are just a few of the ways friends, family and coworkers have been socializing during this difficult season.

What started as a friendly toast between two franchise industry veterans during a virtual meeting rapidly went viral as hundreds of franchise professionals across the country started raising a glass each week to toast “#WhiskeyWednesday.” David Chapman, Founder and CEO of 919 Marketing, the nation’s fastest growing franchise marketing agency, and Pete Baldine, President of Moran Family of Brands, a nationwide franchisor of automotive repair services, posted the first virtual #WhiskeyWednesday toasts online back in March. It wasn’t long before other industry professionals started to join in. Every Wednesday, even now – months after the launch, social media feeds are full of #WhiskeyWednesday videos, as people toast with their favorite beverage and challenge others to join the fun.

As #WhiskeyWednesday started to attract viral fame, franchise leaders from coast to coast amped up their efforts to contribute creative weekly posts. In addition to offering a weekly whiskey to taste, 919 Marketing called on participants to highlight various aspects of at-home life during the quarantine. “We craved a simple way to connect each week because we miss all of our franchise friends who we see regularly at meetings and conferences, but can’t now because of the lockdowns,” said Chapman.

Participants showcased home improvement projects, gardens, musical skills and their pets. As the trend went on, #WhiskeyWednesday co-creator Baldine raised the bar — and his glass — when he did his weekly toast sitting on horseback. 919 Marketing took the event a step further by turning to the spokesman for Dos Equis beer to add levity and fun to its #WhiskeyWednesday event. In the cameo video, Jonathan Goldsmith discusses the importance of community spirit and fun during this time of isolation while smoking a cigar.

The success of #WhiskeyWednesday would not have been possible without some of franchising’s best and brightest pitching in. Paige Robinson, Director of Franchise Development at American Family Care, the nation's leading provider of urgent care and accessible primary care, was one of the first participants in the program. Robinson’s toasts, including taking a tour of her wild mushroom garden, have been a highlight.  Erica Tarnowski, a senior account manager at 919 Marketing, helped drive the effort with her creative segments and acting skills – including a mock escape coup by her alter ego and several “attempts” to hide from her family. And Amanda L. House, Senior Franchise Development Manager at automotive franchise Ziebart International, has uplifted spirits weekly with her beautiful singing voice.

“Whiskey Wednesday started as a little morale boost for folks in franchising and has grown into a cultural craze as folks from all business sectors join in to relieve the stress from this pandemic,” Baldine said. “We don’t care if you drink whiskey, wine or water. We invite everyone to the virtual party because life is too short, and this crisis has gone on too long.”

Inspired by the community #WhiskeyWednesday created, Our Town America, the #1-rated Advertising Franchise in the country, introduced the trend offline to its family of franchisees. The company opted to hire celebrities to provide encouragement to its franchisees during quarantine. Actor Chuck Norris and comedian Jeff Ross both performed in Cameo videos to help motivate franchisees, as many of their clients were struggling with stay-at-home orders and shuttered businesses. With Jeff Ross being known as The Roastmaster General, he even poked fun at Michael Plummer Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Our Town America, during one of the videos. Plummer was more than happy to participate, saying, “Providing a welcome dose of humor to our franchisees is vital during this time. We wanted to make sure our franchisees know that we support them and value their efforts to keep business on track during the pandemic.”

If you are ready to jump on the #WhiskeyWednesday train or are looking for help to inspire your franchisees, 919 Marketing has some tips for launching a successful social media campaign:

  • Pick Your Theme Wisely. Your social media campaign needs to be about a topic that impacts everyone, not just your business. It’s important to pick a topic you care about and can speak on with authority. Both Chapman and Baldine are avid whiskey connoisseurs and felt comfortable acting as experts on the tasty beverage.
  • Keep Your Message Short. Make sure to keep your message short, sweet and visual. People aren’t interested in sitting through a lecture. Allow your personality to shine during your message. People enjoy connecting with someone who is real.
  • Provide Direction. 919 Marketing made sure to feature a new whiskey to taste each week, while still encouraging participants to get creative. One week they asked the community to show off their home improvement project. Another week they asked each person to tell something they love about the place they work. They also asked each participant to recommend a local beer they enjoy and they prompted people to provide a list of things they are grateful for during this time. Kelly Crummer, Director of Franchise Recruitment at Scooter’s Coffee, expressed her gratitude for the finance partners that support the company’s franchisees, saying, “If you help us fund existing stores or new business, cheers to you,” she said in her social media post. Other members of the Scooter’s Coffee team gave shout outs to their foodservice employees and the franchise community.
  • Don’t Try to Control the Content. The success of any viral campaign is its ability to grow and flourish.  Remember, this isn’t a franchise PR campaign for your brand – trying to control the content (and those who participate) will halt the success of the effort. Allowing participants to showcase their creativity will help the campaign grow and take on a life of its own.

Help boost team spirit at your company by starting a social media campaign, or join the #WhiskeyWednesday viral trend, by shooting a video of your toast and posting it to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages this week. Cheers to you and your business.