As the pandemic enters into the latest, and potentially most difficult phase, businesses still face an uncertain future. Restaurants, in particular, continue to struggle even as they adjust to new realities. However, many have managed to keep going thanks to delivery options and local customer bases doing their best to lend support.
Yet, Black-owned restaurants have faced systemic and institutionalized barriers, including access to capital and a vast digital divide. These gaps are not the only reasons these independent owners struggle, but if addressed and improved, it can level the playing field.
To help build business for Black-owned restaurants, PepsiCo launched a new program to generate $100 million in sales over five years. “Dig In” celebrates the diverse range of food and history of these restaurants and also provides tangible and meaningful assistance to help Black restaurant owners not just make it through the pandemic but build a robust future.
A new spot from the brand debuting today during the NFL’s playoff games features four Black-owned restaurants. “Savor the Sound” focuses on a day in the life of 7th and Grove in Tampa, Off the Bone Barbecue in Dallas, The Breakfast Klub in Houston and Kitchen Cray in Washington D.C.
“With the national exposure that Pepsi is providing to businesses like mine, I hope to see a boost in active interest and support of the many Black-owned restaurants shaping the culture and food scene in neighborhoods across America,” said Marcus Davis, founder and owner of The Breakfast Klub and member of the PepsiCo Black Restaurant Advisory Council
The spot from Chicago agency Ten35 takes a dual-meaning approach to the concept of “Dig In.” According to Ahmad Islam, the agency’s managing partner and CEO, it’s a literal interpretation of inviting people to discover and support Black-owned restaurants. On the flip side, Islam says that it’s a “higher-order and call to action of digging into the cause of uplifting the Black-owned restaurant community.”
From a creative standpoint, the ad could be thought of as linear in that it tells an easy-to-understand story in 30-seconds. The creative touches and high production values illustrate the hard-to-achieve authenticity in an era of scrappy ad work. Using stringent Covid-19 protocols, including a skeleton crew, the agency went to each location to get the true essence of each restaurant.
“Anyone, depending on their lend, is going to find something personally meaningful in this spot,” noted Islam.
Scott Finlow, CMO of PepsiCo Global Foodservice, said that there is tremendous urgency to help. He is confident that momentum comes through a combination of access, acceleration and growth, and awareness.
The ad addresses the current era’s new levels of consciousness. Looking deeper, the brand’s commitment to the program shows how PepsiCo is investing significant resources. One specific piece of Dig In is its Black Restaurants Deliver program, an eight-week, no-cost consultancy that optimizes and builds online ordering and delivery capabilities. The brand completed a pilot in Washington D.C. and will serve over 400 restaurants in 40 communities over the next five years.
“Restaurants that have been well-positioned and set up to meet off-premise needs have performed well in the past nine months,” said Finlow. “What we’ve also found is that a lot of Black-owned restaurants, because of challenges like access to capital, haven’t been as well-positioned. That’s why we’re jumping in with this program.”
In June, PepsiCo committed $400 million to racial equality causes within the company, and in the communities it serves, with $50 million dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses. In the announcement, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta reinforced the brand’s commitment, saying, “We proudly stand with our Black associates, Black communities, and we believe unequivocally that Black lives matter.”