Ryan Gosling, Coffee, and the Little Cafe that could…2018 edition

Many of you may have heard that the Toronto International Film Festival is currently ongoing. All the Hollywood stars come to see and be seen and showcase their new films. It’s a media frenzy with paparazzi combing the streets looking to take pics of any stars wandering about our fair city and the chance for local businesses to get lucky and actually serve a celebrity.

It’s also the time that Joelle Murray, owner of Grinder Coffee House in Toronto, launches her annual celebrity campaign. The goal of the campaign is simple, invite a Hollywood star to come have a coffee with her at her cafe. And this year’s “Ryan needs Grinder” campaign (#ryanneedsgrinder), was a massive success with Ryan Gosling coming in and having a cup of fresh coffee (taken black) and posing for pictures with Joelle and some star struck patrons.

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I wrote an article on last years campaign, #idrisneedsgrinder which, unfortunately, didn’t result in Mr. Elba showing up for coffee and snack. His loss, Joelle says. But why did this years campaign succeed? Especially considering that Mr. Gosling doesn’t really maintain an active presence on his social media. Here are some takeaways from this years campaign.

Leverage what you have for what you want

Joelle is passionate, funny, warm and relatable. She has the right personae for a small business owner who is active and involved in her local community. For news organizations looking for a subject to feature, Joelle and her cafe are perfect. While Joelle maintains that she didn’t do anything, she forgets that her outgoing personality and her enthusiasm makes supporting her very natural. Her likeability makes you WANT her to succeed. She was perfectly positioned to be the lead in a feel good story of a small “mom and pop” business trying to get noticed in a sea of competition. People rallied behind her and she received press even before Ryan came.

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As other new outlets started to pick up her story, eventually, someone influential noticed. In this case, it was Ryan’s mother who played a key part. Kudos to Mr. Gosling for doing what his mom tells him to do.

Doing it right means investing time, money and energy

Last year, the #idrisneedsgrinder campaign used a simple cutout of Idris’ head on a popcicle stick. This year, Joelle invested in a lifesize (cut off at the waist) cardboard cutout of Ryan Gosling and she had a friend photoshop a Grinder coffee cup in his hands.   For Grinder, this was a $50 dollar investment in materials (and a free cup of coffee to her friend with the photoshop skills). That’s a great ROI, isn’t it?

Joelle also scheduled staff in so she had time to gather content for her campaign. Every day she’d take “Ryan” around the neighbourhood for photo opportunities. Joelle knew from last years campaign that it’s a great way to get other businesses involved and supporting the campaign on their social media as well.

Do some research and have a plan

Joelle had an idea of how she wanted her campaign to play out. She had a start and end date and an activity planned for each day of the campaign. She researched and knew when Mr. Gosling was in town, when he’d be busy premiering his movie, and when his press conference was planned. Joelle had something scheduled for every day of the campaign including taking “Ryan” to local businesses for a haircut, a spa and massage, and shopping at her local mall.

Joelle knew that the window to have Ryan come by was very small and so she came up with an idea to solve that. She’d tell Ryan directly how close Grinder was and how simple and easy it was for him to drop by. Joelle made a simple post that was a map from Tiff to her cafe with the caption noting Grinder was only an 18 minute car drive across the city. Hopefully, that would remove a significant barrier that Grinder was not far away and was easily accessible.

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How successful was this campaign? Well, Huffington Post, Newsweek, People, CTV, CBC, The Globe and Mail, CityTV, FoxNews, Toronto Life, National Post, Esquire, and ETCanada are just a few of the organizations who picked up the story. Joelle says a patron told her that they saw #ryanneedsgrinder on a russian website! Joelle didn’t capture all the statistics but she was able to share the following results from her campaign:

Facebook– 75,924 people reached, 36,176 post clicks and almost 10k reactions, comments and shares

Twitter– 504,415 impressions, 70,690 total engagements

Instagram– 34,640 accounts reached, with 4,054 total engagements

Not bad for $50 eh?


Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.


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