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Grubhub Goes Scriptless in Ad War for $200 Billion Restaurant Delivery Biz

By Published on .

Grubhub's Taco spot.
Grubhub's Taco spot. Credit: Grubhub
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Grubhub Inc. is showcasing authentic moments, or as real as they can be when culled from 10 hours of footage, in a new TV campaign as the food delivery service tries to deepen its connections with millions of customers.

The service is trying to differentiate its offering, online delivery from thousands of restaurants, among a sea of options ranging from calling an individual restaurant to ordering from on-demand services such as UberEats. Last year, Grubhub estimated that more than $200 billion was spent on takeout orders from chain and independent restaurants in 2015. It has undoubtedly grown since then.

"We wanted to have a meaningful and authentic connection with our users," Grubhub Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Martin Coppola said in an interview at the brand's Chicago headquarters. "And we wanted to give an unfiltered version of the moments that people live through when they order Grubhub."

The "Food's here" campaign is the brand's first work from agency Duncan Channon. Grubhub most recently worked with creative agency BBH.

The TV spot, which begins airing Monday on cable, depicts an everyday scene that happens as people decide what to order, place their orders and wait for the food to arrive.

A crew filmed a group of friends for 10 hours as they hung out and decided what to order on Grubhub.

"We just said order what you want to order," Ms. Martin Coppola said.

In the first spot, the answer is tacos.

Chatter in the commercial is not just about food. The group even briefly jokes about facial moisturizer, which apparently was an unscripted moment.

"I think that authenticity goes a long way with our users," including millennials, a big target audience for the brand, Ms. Martin Coppola said.

Grubhub is also showcasing the group of friends from Austin, Tex., in its Instagram feed and planning a second spot from the footage.

"'Food's here' is about so much more than what people shout out when they hear the doorbell," Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director, Duncan Channon, said in a statement. "It's about the moment when you drop everything you are doing to come together to eat. Bags can't get opened fast enough, spring rolls are stolen from plates -- it's joyful pandemonium."

The campaign comes nearly a year after Grubhub updated its logo and other design elements, changes that helped improve unaided awareness of the brand "quite a bit," Ms. Martin Coppola said.

Seamless, the New York-based brand that started as its own company and merged with Chicago-based Grubhub in 2013, continues to work with BBH, Ms. Martin Coppola said.

Grubhub has been increasing spending behind its brand. In the first nine months of 2016, it spent $8.8 million more on advertising campaigns than a year earlier. Total sales and marketing costs rose $14.5 million to $80.7 million during that period.

An average of 267,500 orders were placed daily in the third quarter of 2016, up 26% from a year earlier.

Marketing spending this year is expected to increase in line with the growth of the business, said Ms. Martin Coppola, who joined the company in 2015 after seven years at Google.

Alongside the work from Duncan Channon and BBH, Grubhub's own 80-person marketing team works on projects including email, digital and many out-of-home campaigns. Grubhub is using data to reach people when they are more likely to use the service. When a storm approaches, for example, it reaches out to customers who previously ordered during inclement weather. In November, Grubhub introduced a content section on its site called The Crave, which showcases stories, quizzes and other items.

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