NRA Award Nomination


Boston Pizza’s (BP’s) new kids and family program was announced as a finalist in the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA’s) Operator Innovations Awards.

The NRA’s team of independent operator experts from across the industry evaluated hundreds of marketing submissions from restaurant and foodservice companies, and BP’s kids program was shortlisted to the top 3. Entrants were judged on criteria such as degree of uniqueness and differentiation, level of success and measurable results, and the value added by the operator.

Boston Pizza (a casual dining concept in Canada serving over 40 million guests at over 350 locations each year) sought to step outside of the traditional kids program and partnered with Kidzsmart, a kids and family marketing agency dedicated to providing awesome family experiences. The teams focused on creating a strategic, fully integrated kids program including print and mobile media that would “wow” customers, and regain franchisee support. 

The print component consists of a set of full colour, collectible, Power Packs featuring an animated All Stars team of characters. This in-store print piece leads to a 3D augmented reality app for mobile devices featuring interactive games that encourage playful competition, and gamification techniques for generating referrals. The “BP All Stars”, is based on the concept of “belonging”, through a team of sports All Stars. The printed materials teach the value of participation, empowerment and teamwork, and links to the 3D Augmented Reality App extending the users experience as the All-Stars leap off the page and into Mom’s or Dad’s mobile device where they remain, controlled by the parent, but interactive and always available to make kids happy.  By keeping the brand alive in their daily gaming activities, Boston Pizza can drive increased frequency and loyalty among top customers, and social buzz through Mom’s wide network. The program also provides an opportunity for Mom and Dad to have a conversation with each other.

Initiating a narrative among interesting characters brings thoughtful content into the material, which parents appreciate, as it demonstrates respect for their kids, and clearly shows Boston Pizza has invested some time and thought into them – as valued guests.  “I think the new look of the Kids Activity Pack is right on track with keeping the kids interests peak. It is both refreshing and innovative” states one Boston Pizza guest. Kidzsmart has set a new industry standard for kids programs, with shareable content for Moms and Dads to generate referral.

Boston Pizza focused their marketing efforts heavily into the family demographic knowing that if kids materials are intelligent, fun and have value, parents will give them permission to deliver their message, build relationships, provide offers, and start to capture lifetime value. They partnered with Kidzsmart, an expert in engaging the family market, to show that they value kids.  "This is a testament to Kidzsmart's capabilities.  The process was truly collaborative, our creative team working very closely with the Boston Pizza team, to ensure we hit the mark. It's exciting to be able to develop such a rich and robust kids program, and witness its success in the marketplace!" Kidzsmart’s Creative Director, Tracey Dear comments.

The concept of “belonging” has never been more important, as bullying continues to be a serious topic for kids. Boston Pizza's marketing team knew that they had a unique opportunity to facilitate quality time and lifelong memories that kids and parents could share together. The teams are now actively planning the future of the All Stars, which will continue to offer universe of fun for kids and families while dining at Boston Pizza.

This is the third year the NRA has brought together the industry’s leading minds to identify advances in the restaurant industry. The winners will be announced live in Chicago on May 17th, during the 2014 National Restaurant Association Show, and BP and Kidzsmart are eagerly awaiting the outcome.