Home / Restaurant Trends and News / These Guys Boosted Sales 400% With Creative Marketing

These Guys Boosted Sales 400% With Creative Marketing

Restaurant Marketing Social Media
Photo by Dean Rutz, Seattle Times

Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle, Washington pulled off a brilliant piece of restaurant marketing recently, resulting in a 400% increase in clam chowder sales.

How did they do it?

Well, it’s a funny story actually.  Ivar’s dreamed up this scheme to get a kooky story going in the local media and virally on the web.  The tall tale went like this: the restaurant’s founder, Ivar Haglund, long since dead, had arranged for billboards advertising his restaurant to be planted on the bottom of Puget Sound in the 1950s.  Apparently Haglund fervently believed that people of the future would travel the depths of the Sound via submarine, and his billboards would one day be perfectly located.

Ivar’s let the story steep in the media for a couple weeks, then staged a recovery of the billboards, which got a lot of attention.  Unbeknownst to the media or the masses, the billboards had been planted a few short weeks before the “recovery.”

The restaurant then announced they would roll back the price of a bowl of clam chowder to 1950s prices to celebrate the discovery of the long lost billboards.  The story blew up all over the internet, and soon Ivar’s had a lot of new business on their hands, leading to the 400% increase in clam chowder sales.

The story reveals how effective a well-designed marketing campaign aimed at social media can be.  The food service industry in general are slow adopters when it comes to technology, and as I’ve discussed here on The Back Burner before, it remains unclear how much restaurants are even using social media, despite the steady stream of articles and experts saying how great this new kind of marketing is.

Ivar’s has proven that innovative thinking and a willingness to go all in can bring astounding results if it’s properly executed.  This example also makes it clear just how effective “new” marketing can be.

So how do you plan to use social media to boost your restaurant’s sales 400%?  If you’re like most restaurateurs, you haven’t even thought about it.  As Ivar’s has proven, it’s clearly time to start.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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  1. That was a great idea and it’s awesome it worked so well! What else will people come up with?

  2. LOL!! I absolutely love this! What an incredibly creative idea. Boy would I loved to have been around the table plotting this. I bet they had a load of fun.

  3. This is a cool story! It also shows how people are willing to invest in creativity. In this case, the gamble seems to pay off! I’m sure this took a little money upfront to create the billboards and stage the recovery. There was no guarantee that they would increase sales by 400%.

    The second part to this success is retaining that new business. I wonder how they were able to handle the influx and keep those new customers happy customers.

    • Yeah I’m curious as well to know how these guys dealt with customer retention and if they thought about it at all. Getting customers in the door is one thing, getting them to come back time after time is another. I’ll look into it and see if I can find anything.

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