Pearls of Wisdom: Celebrating 30 %$#@! Years in Advertising

This year deep had the joyful task of concepting the theme for the annual Marlin Network Breakfast. Please note that wasn’t sarcasm. We are proud to be one of the food marketing entities of the Marlin Network and in the fine company of Marlin, The Alchemedia Project, Food IQ and STARAwards. So when we got the opportunity to come up with a concept that represented the whole network and its inception 30 years ago, naturally we deepsters jumped at the chance—and thought of a salty oyster that swears like a sailor.


It started out innocently enough. The deep team began by thinking about the different ways we could play up this 30-years celebration. So after bypassing breakfast in 1985 and a triple X theme (hey, XXX is thirty in roman numerals), we went back to one of our original ideas—the pearl. As the traditional gift for a 30-year anniversary, we couldn’t help but draw the parallel between the making of a pearl and the creation of an idea (what deep and all of Marlin Network is known for). Both begin as a tiny grain and eventually work their way into the realization of something unique and valuable.SalThePearl

Then, things got a little weird.

Talking oyster weird, that is. But similarly to the making of a pearl, how we got there was completely natural. The deep team drew on the significance of the pearl and all of the wisdom that comes from 30 years in the food marketing business. Pearls. Wisdom. Bam! Pearls of wisdom. And where do pearls of wisdom come from? Well, wise oysters, of course. But we couldn’t just make our oyster wise for wisdom’s sake. We had to give him some personality. The thing is, he turned out to be a bit of wise guy.


Have you met the oyster?

This cantankerous character was used to extend invitations to this year’s Marlin Network Breakfast in a series of eblasts and came to life in videos posted on the dedicated website Here, you can get pearls of wisdom from our salty spokesperson concerning everything from trends to agency politics. So what are you waiting for? Take a walk on the salty side. 


Thanks to our friends at Bruton Stroube for all of their work on making this mollusk look like a hopping, talking wise guy, and to Garage Graphics for creating a live irritation for the Marlin Network Breakfast event.


This post was written by Sharon Kuntz—Sr. Copywriter at deep and a self-proclaimed foodie with more than 10 years of experience in foodservice marketing.

Friday Food Stories: How Valeri Lea Became deep’s Foodservice Superstar

Valeri Lea—Partner and Account Service Lead at deep—started her foodservice story when she was in elementary school. Seriously. It’s no wonder she’s the resident industry expert around here—it’s been in her bones from the beginning.

Valeri Lea is deep's Foodservice Superstar

She first became fond of the foodservice world while spending afternoons and weekends as a kid having fun and helping out in her mother and uncle’s family-owned restaurant. She loved every second and spent her days playing games, picking songs on the jukebox, chatting up customers and coming up with creative concoctions in the kitchen—a cheeseburger topped with chili and coleslaw was her favorite.

At only eight years old, she attended her first food show in Rolla, Missouri, and had no idea it wouldn’t be her last. Today, she travels all over the country and attends a handful of shows every year. She’ll soon be on her way to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago for the 15th time! And just like her eight-year-old self, she still enjoys scouring booths for new creations or combinations and tasting the endless supply of samples. We like your style, Val.

But beyond learning the beauty of free samples and how to create a crazy cool cheeseburger, growing up in a foodservice family taught Val a lifetime of other lessons. Watching her mom and uncle work day and night to build a business showed her what hard work really looks like and how important it is to value the people that allow your business to continue succeeding. It also showed her the community that comes together around food. The business of food brought her family together and continues to bring people together in a number of ways all over the world.

After going off to college, Val attempted to escape foodservice by pursuing a career in the music industry. But soon after graduation things came full circle, and she ended up back in the biz on the agency side. Foodservice loved her and wanted her back, and we are so thankful for that.

Friday Food Stories is a spotlight series showcasing deepsters and their deep love for all things food. Check back soon for more!

The Power of the Story: How Independent Restaurants Can Leverage New Media

This article was written by Barry Shuster and originally appeared in the April issue of Restaurant Start-Up & Growth.

Valeri Lea is a partner at deep, a Springfield, Missouri-based advertising and marketing agency serving the foodservice industry. As head of account services, she brings 20 years of experience in the food business. She specializes in strategic marketing, executing large-scale integrated programs, applying behavioral insights to deliver innovative business solutions and launching successful new products to the marketplace.

Lea represents the current generation of talented young agency leaders who are helping foodservice and restaurant businesses brand their concepts and messages via both new and traditional media. In this issue, we ask her to share some of her wisdom on independent restaurant marketing and promotion.

Valeri Lea, partner at foodservice marketing agency deep

RS&G: Valeri, for years the big chains overwhelmed the restaurant marketing space with ubiquitous television advertising. Does social media marketing really give independent operators a more level playing field for local-branding their restaurants? If so, what are some key points for them to consider?

VL: I absolutely think that social media have leveled the playing field. It’s free and has high “readership” – to use comparable vernacular. All you need is time, dedication and a solid strategy.

With one in three small businesses using social media, it’s no longer enough to just have a website. They must have a social media presence, too.

There are many resources out there to help operators navigate the many social media sites on the Web. For instance, restaurant owners can quickly respond to clients and customers on Twitter, which is great, but should realize that promotion must find a delicate balance between content and spam. Or take Facebook, which is great for brand exposure and customer relations but not very SEO [search-engine optimization]-friendly.

Maybe operators have considered setting up a YouTube account, but before they do they should first decide if video content creation will benefit their business. A lot of people don’t realize that each social media platform has its pros and cons, so it’s important to first research and find the tools that benefit your operation’s unique needs.

RS&G: Restaurants seem to continue to attract business from fliers and mailed coupons. What is your view on traditional media (print, billboard, direct mail) for this market?

VL: Print media isn’t dead. It depends on your target and how that individual consumes information. Fliers and mailed coupons aren’t the most effective way of reaching millennials or centennials, but certainly work on some Gen X and boomer demographics. If your concept and menu are built to attract the older demographic, then you should consider a mix of print and digital. It’s always a good idea to put some form of measurement in place on those print pieces to see if they really are working for you (i.e., coupon redemption). But it’s been our experience that restaurants see the biggest success through word of mouth and that’s where social media comes in.

RS&G: Farm-to-fork, sustainability and uniqueness seem to be important to younger diners, who comprise an increasingly large percentage of the restaurant market. How do independent operators, who embrace these values, best communicate it to the market in a way that is genuine and not simply ‘me too.’ 

VL: Through their story. Consumers don’t want to hear just facts and statements. They want to hear the story of how the restaurant was started, where the menu inspiration came from and how the restaurant’s values were born. The story, with info about sustainable practices woven in, will create that emotional connection to your restaurant brand that you want consumers to have.

RS&G: National advertising agencies help some of the most prominent companies in foodservice build their brands nationally. They also market their services to independent restaurant concepts. I would think most independents would want to work with smaller local agencies. What is the benefit versus the cost for an independent restaurant employing a national agency, as opposed to a local PR or media group.

VL: Probably for the same reason that it’s beneficial for large food companies to use them versus somebody in their own backyard – exposure. National agencies are exposed to some of the best marketing principles and practices out there. Because they work on so many great brands and help them reach multiple targets in multiple channels and markets, they get to really see some great marketing plans get executed. Plus, it’s their job to keep up with trends and shifts in consumer engagement with different communication vehicles.

RS&G: You make it your business to stay ahead of marketing trends in foodservice. This column is called ‘Fast Five,’ so carrying that idea a step further, would you give me five fast tips for our readers to consider when planning their promotional strategy?

VL: Sure. Social media and other online tools are a must. Here are five ways to leverage them:

  • Remember that social media sites have customer support teams that are available to help businesses get the most out of their platforms – especially with advertising. So don’t be afraid to use that Facebook customer support.
  • Stop focusing on interesting content and start engaging with customers. Respond back as quickly as possible. Their loyalty will increase if they feel your response was quick enough.
  • Respond to customers in a personalized way. Consider GIFs [bitmap images], videos and emoticons [in your responses] when appropriate.
  • Leverage multiple platforms. Consumers don’t typically just use one social media platform, and neither should you.
  • Customers want to be remembered. Engaging with them online will also help you remember them when they come in.

 Click here to request a free 12-month subscription to Restaurant Startup & Growth.

417 Magazine Honored deepster at “20 Under 30” Award Ceremony

Honoring Exceptional Young Professionals in the Springfield Area

Each year, 417 Magazine features 20 young professionals who are redefining the way we live, give and do business – all before their 30th birthday. These hardworking individuals are nominated by friends and co-workers and then selected by the staff of 417 Magazine for their exceptional leadership and community service.

417 Magazine's 2015 Class of 20 Under 30

Photo credit: 417 Magazine

This year, our very own assistant public relations manager, Bethany Bell, was chosen as a member of the 20 Under 30 Class of 2015. Her passion for public relations and social media paired with her sense of humility and servanthood made her the perfect candidate for this award.

Logan Aguirre of 417 Magazine Presenting Award to Bethany Bell

Photo credit: 417 Magazine

Her social media philosophy for businesses is simple—less for promotion and more for customer service. “Social media is a way to save your customers time, to educate them and to turn a bad experience into a good one by responding in a timely and gracious fashion,” she says.

To celebrate, 417 Magazine hosted the 10th Annual 20 Under 30 Party at the Highland Springs Country Club. A cocktail hour allowed members of the Springfield community to congratulate their favorite up-and-comers in 417-land while enjoying local food and beverages. The night concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing the members of the Class of 2015.

20 Under 30 Class of 2015

Photo credit: 417 Magazine

Congratulations to the 20 Under 30 Class of 2015, we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for each and every one of you!

To learn more about Bethany Bell and her impressive accomplishments, read her full interview.

Three Takeaways from the 2015 PRSA Western District Conference

Amid the bright lights and electric energy of downtown Los Angeles, I recently attended one of the largest PR conferences on the west coast — the annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Western District Conference.


This year’s theme — “Yes. Everything Is PR” — was reflective of the transforming world of this profession (some might argue a bit egotistical, but we’ll put that aside for now). From the disintegration of traditional media and the rise of social media marketing and analytics; from multi-layered communications strategies to cutting-edge technologies; from Big Data to Big Brands; from the constant desire for new ideas for brand awareness to the ever-present need for reputation management, this year’s agenda delved into all of these exciting topics, and many more.

I found myself wondering why I get so excited for these annual trainings. Maybe it’s because PR professionals are challenged with explaining what we do on a daily basis. To be fair, it’s not like I’m a user interface designer or an actuary (good luck explaining that one to Mom), but still a PR Manager ranks in the top 10 list of impossible jobs to explain to your parents. Seriously, there’s a list. Check it out.

As if that’s not enough, a quick google search turns up tons of articles for advice on how to explain your PR job to friends. So they don’t think you do this all day.

"You plan parties and play on social media? Now isn't that nice."

Maybe that’s why I look forward to being around my clan, people who share the daily challenges and can celebrate the same successes of working in this field. One that most of us studied in college, and has become the craft I’ve tried to hone for my 10 plus career years.

As the authority, this is how PRSA defines PR: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Simply put, this definition focuses on the basic concept of PR — as a strategic communication process.

With that in mind, I wanted to come away from this year’s conference with knowledge that made me a better PR professional. Certainly, in our increasingly competitive field, it’s often the advanced knowledge and current insights that give us an edge – an advantage we hope to pass along to our clients and leadership.

It’s hard to nail down just a few key learnings from a weekend packed with expert speakers and valuable insights, but one thing I know for sure – we’re all competing for attention. So I’ll highlight my top three takeaways.

1. Cut Through the Clutter With Influencer Marketing

I had this session marked on my agenda well in advance. Loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers, influencers hold the power and it’ll be our job to cater to them. Needless to say, my ears were perked even before I entered the room.

“We need to influence the influencers!” This phrase is heard in marketing meetings across the globe as companies look for solutions to cut through the clutter and reach consumers. In this panel, leaders from IZEA, including Crystal Duncan and Kimberly Kovacs showed how to find influencers, maximize relationships and get your brand message heard. It was interesting to see the social evolution from Myspace bloggers to YouTube and Vine stars, and also see success stories from some of the biggest brands around the world. But the below was the money slide for me, showing the expenses to utilize influencers and how much celebrity “endorsement” costs from some of the biggest names out there. Download the presentation.

Premium Influencer Costs

2. Maximize Out-of-Home Advertising Through Integrated Marketing

As a part of an integrated marketing campaign targeting Chicago and Los Angeles, this PR team was able to maximize advertising initiatives for the Arizona Office of Tourism. This included media relations for two distinctive out-of-home installations: a Chicago billboard featuring a woman kicking off giant flip-flops the size of sedans and in Los Angeles, a giant 3D chalk rendering of the Grand Canyon. Amy LaSala and Kiva Couchon showed us how this campaign resulted in top-tier media coverage, an installation video viewed in more than 100 countries, and thousands of article shares on social media, elevating the state as a travel destination. Download the presentation.

Giant 3D Rendering of Grand Canyon in Los Angelos

3. Evolve Your PR Strategy With Your Content Marketing

In case you haven’t heard, content is kind of a big deal. I was so excited to hear how others plan their content strategies and this list of do’s and don’ts was especially helpful.

 “Content marketing strategy” is a fairly new term coined as the communications industry evolves to ensure compelling content is in place. Today, it’s critical that brands publish owned content on a consistent basis to help garner the brand awareness they’re looking for. This plan helps lay the groundwork so your brand never has an unplanned moment of silence and each piece of produced content shares an interesting story. Dan Santy, President and CEO of Santy, talked about the tools needed to complement this plan through: public relations, social media, email marketing and influencer marketing. Download the presentation.

Content Marketing Evolves PR

You can bet our PR team will be evolving to keep up with where our profession is headed this year.

Bonus: 7 Public Relations Trends to Watch in 2015, from PR News

Amy-headshotThis post was written by Amy Rosendahl, who has 10 years of experience with PR communications, media relations and social media. As the Senior PR Manager at deep food marketing group, Rosendahl is responsible for developing and executing PR and social media strategies for all deep clients, including some of the world’s largest food companies. She is a board member for the International Foodservice Editorial Council and longstanding PRSA member. Rosendahl started her career in Kansas City and now works from the deep Seattle office, where she lives with her husband, son and adopted cat.


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