Project Description

White Castle Scottsdale AZ Opening

teamworks delivered media relations and event planning to make the introduction of the first White Castle in Arizona the talk … and must-do event … of the town!

Highlights

PR/communication folks are lucky if once in their career they get to work with a business icon – a brand that is well known by everyone. Working with the “big brands” allows you the ability to be part of a larger team and be super creative.

teamworks was selected in late 2018 to manage the Fall 2019 grand opening event planning and publicity for the opening of the first White Castle “west of the Mississippi” and in Arizona. For 10 months we wore the hats of party planner, strategist, promoter, community relations rep and press agent. We calculated stanchion lengths and tent coverage, managed expectations with potential partners, identified product sampling sites, made introductions to community groups, and responded to hundreds of media queries.

Strategically, we addressed a number of goals set forth by the client:

From the groundbreaking event in April 2019 through the grand opening in late October, we generated more than 16 million media impressions for this White Castle restaurant.
  • Connected with the administrator of the “Bring White Castle to Arizona” Facebook page, which had more than 1,000 followers. Recommended that White Castle’s social media team coordinate with the administrator to change the name to “White Castle is Coming to Arizona” and provide content for him to post.
  • Offered via the Facebook site the opportunity for the first 50 Cravers to register to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony in April 2019.
  • Identified sampling locations for the White Castle Crave Mobile in conjunction with the Groundbreaking and in advance of the Grand Opening.
Thousands of Cravers lined up for as long as 7 hours for both dine-in and drive-thru the day of the opening. with White Castle serving nearly 50,000 iconic Sliders in the first 20 hours of opening.
  • Introduced the newly relocated Operating Partner to local community representatives including:
    • Talking Stick Entertainment (TSED)
    • SRPMIC Representatives
    • Contacts at area schools
    • Local charities
    • Local businesses
    • Chamber of Commerce
  • Helped White Castle navigate the Special Event Permit application process with SRPMIC.
  • Partnered with to incorporate SRPMIC leadership and culture into the groundbreaking ceremony, which included a native blessing song, traditional digging sticks and remarks by the SRPMIC President.
  • Created a “Storm the Castle” promotion with several Hubbard radio stations featuring pop-up sightings of Slider Head and incentivizing social media posts.
  • Developed an editorial calendar of media pitches and resulting placements beginning with the groundbreaking and continuing through the grand opening.
  • Successfully arrange media sneak preview coverage in the days preceding the grand opening.
  • Coordinated with the local chapter of Autism Speaks and with Valley of the Sun United Way to hold fundraising events for up to 100 supporters each during the last crew training week.
  • Developed an opening event site plan and coordinated all equipment rentals including stanchion, lavatory trailer, ADA portable john, tent, traffic barricades and beverage trough rentals.
  • Identified a medic team to be on-site to attend to customer health needs.
  • Contributed logistical insights in traffic flow meetings with Salt River Police Department.
  • Hosted Landowners/VIP Event at the new Castle three days before the Grand Opening.
  • Identified and coordinated still and video photography of the groundbreaking and grand opening events, including drone coverage.
  • Identified a time-lapse video provider.
  • Identified and coordinated an architectural photographer to obtain “beauty” shots of the interior and exterior of the new Castle.
  • Produced a grand opening video announcement utilizing the operating partner and Slider Head.
  • Produced a video highlighting training the White Castle crew members who flew in from across the country to train new Castle staff members.
  • Developed an editorial of creative story angles to generate media coverage in period between the announcement of the Grand Opening Date and the opening itself.
    • Phoenix Business Journal – interview with the CEO regarding the how White Castle’s culture is unique in the fast food industry.
    • Arizona Republic – front page of the Food Section article on what to look for on the White Castle menu. Additional stories in the print edition and on their online platform, azcentral.com ran before, during and after the opening.
    • All TV stations attended the grand opening, three of them sending helicopters to do flyovers.
    • Invited KTAR on-air personality and White Castle fan Bruce St. James for a “sneak peek” of the Castle. He talked about it on air and edited a video piece that ran various social media channels.
  • Coordinated with the #1 Country station in market to have morning DJ Ben Campbell, a huge White Castle fan, camp out in the White Castle parking lot for three days prior to the grand opening. Their morning show was broadcast live the day of the opening, and they invited listeners to come out and visit while he was camping. Ben was surprised prior to the ribbon cutting by White Castle by being named as one of the newest inductees to the White Castle Hall of Fame.

Opening the “world’s largest White Castle” was fun, exhilarating, tiring, challenging, and above all, rewarding. Though we were on our feet for days upon days setting up for the festivities, and then welcoming thousands to the party, the end result was an event that flowed well (even with the multi-hour lines of customers) and got a ton of media coverage (15 million impressions and counting).

The next few days were a PR case study in real time….crafting messages for media when it was decided we needed to close the doors for a few hours early in the mornings to clean and restock because the demand was so constant….spending time walking the lines of customers to answer questions and capture their nostalgic White Castle memories and reasons for waiting in line for hours…watching multiple traffic helicopters fly overhead at the same time and fielding call after call, and email after email, from the media who wanted to be part of what arguably had become the biggest restaurant opening story of the year.

Being part of this iconic brand team reinforced our skills and strengthened media relationships. It reminded us of just how fulfilling it is to truly partner with a client. It taught us just how much can be accomplished when there’s a common goal of satisfying customers and creating memorable moments.

When we selected teamworks it was because we saw a team that was exceptionally organized and familiar with everything we needed done. They began with the support of understanding the community and being sensitive to what we needed and they needed.  They were creative and cooperative as we worked out how to bring our brand into this community and all of Arizona!  Throughout the many months of preparation their due diligence to the timeline, flexibility when things changed and their commitment surpassed all expectations.  During the incredible outcome of opening day and beyond, they continued to offer support, reaching out to touch base and be sure we were successful.  I can’t imagine any other group would have done as much as they did, becoming true partners in our success.

Any company who is looking for a partner for PR, events and marketing support should call them!

Kim Bartley, Chief Marketing Officer, White Castle