A Love Letter From Culver’s On Four Wheels

October 31, 2023by Hiebing

The From Wisconsin With Love tour was more than a food truck – it was a love letter on four wheels to loyal guests and an opportunity to create new fans along the way. Guests in 17 cities across 14 different states were able to experience the sights and sounds of Wisconsin’s small-town hospitality that Culver’s proudly serves up at every interaction.  

Whether it was discovering that first delicious bite of a cheese curd, a sample of creamy Fresh Frozen Custard or playing on an interactive display brimming with Wisconsin fun facts right next to a cheese sculpture resembling the visited city – every guest was welcomed to delicious with a big Midwest hello. 

Successfully orchestrating a cross-country tour was an extremely intense task. Here’s how our team helped Culver’s bring bites of delicious to cities around the country.

The Challenge

For nearly a decade, Culver’s Welcome to Delicious brand idea has been successfully expanding the brand’s footprint across the nation. While a well-known name in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest, Culver’s saw an opportunity to properly reintroduce themselves to their newer audiences and thank devoted ones with a powerful twist to their brand idea: From Wisconsin With Love.

Knowing the goal was to introduce – or reintroduce – the brand in a meaningful way led us to explore large-scale yet deeply-connecting activations. Research into the QSR and food industry uncovered the continued popularity of food trucks among our target audience. Underpinning the brand idea relaunch was a 17-city brand activation, the From Wisconsin with Love Tour, which featured a food truck delivering guests free samples of Wisconsin’s best – cheese curds and Fresh Frozen Custard – and delicious family fun. The tour and its connected amplification generated a great depth of engagement and breadth of awareness and impact.

The Strategy

From the onset, we knew our tour would focus on markets with lower awareness. We refined our selected markets based on where were most likely to find our target audience and our custom food truck made its way to 17 total locations, one that was selected by guest nominations from a sweepstakes running concurrently with the tour.

Bringing a bite of Wisconsin to each city was planned around the food truck, which would serve Culver’s classic Dairyland delicacies with a welcoming smile – just like a guest would see in Wisconsin or any of our restaurants. But to keep them engaged with the brand, we knew we’d need more. At each stop, our food truck was surrounded by activities designed to encourage guests immerse themselves in the brand, including:

  • A digital touchscreen that guests could tap to learn more about the food, Wisconsin and Culver’s
  • A cheese sculptor crafting a custom piece of art in each of our primary markets – to customize the event and help guests realize we care about their city
  • A “token cow” where guests could deposit a token of one of two colors, voting on which local charity would receive a donation – to show our support for the community (what we would later surprise guests with is that both charities would receive a donation)
  • We also gave away a coupon for a free Deluxe ButterBurger (Culver’s flagship burger) – to encourage a trip to the restaurant and further brand engagement

We knew these activities would allow Culver’s to truly engage guests in conversation about what Fresh Frozen Custard and Cheese Curds are, the hospitality one can expect when visiting a Culver’s restaurant, and how good it feels to give back to their community.

Alongside our in-person engagement, we developed an amplification strategy comprised of digital ads and email, rooted in geo-targeting and location-customized creative to connect with guests more specifically as we built impressions and encouraged event attendance. Each event was promoted via a variety of touchpoints.

Some events were enhanced with an influencer layer, where content creators visited and shared their experience while encouraging their followers to stop by the event and/or check out their local Culver’s. And, finally, we invited guests to tell us where our very last tour stop should be via a sweepstakes embedded on the tour website. Guests submitted their nominations, and ultimately, based on the tour schedule, Culver’s footprint and most importantly, guest popularity, we ended the tour in Minneapolis, MN.

The Impact

For a first-of-its kind experience with the Culver’s brand, and across both measurable (e.g., impressions) and immeasurable (e.g., smiles on attendees faces) results, this campaign was a success. With our From Wisconsin With Love tour we achieved hundreds of millions of impressions, deep engagement onsite with all attendees and thousands of dollars donated to local charities across the cities we visited.

The energy around the brand via the From Wisconsin with Love Tour was palpable leaving a lasting impression on guests and forgings meaningful relationships in the communities where Culver’s has a presence. Audiences old and new were welcomed to delicious with a big Midwest hello – making this activation campaign a true love letter to Culver’s fans across the country.

Looking for a partner that captures your brand idea in new and fun ways? Email Nate Tredinnick at ntredinnick@hiebing.com to set up a call.

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