local media insider
A new take on the "best of" concept

In New Orleans, Gambit Weekly's Bar Wars kills it

Case study

Alisa Cromer
Out for unconditional surrender via social media

Media: Gambit Weekly

Initiative: Bar Wars

Sponsor: Bud Light Platinum

Key executive: Jeanne Foster, Associate Publisher

Objective:  The associate publisher for Gambit, the alternative city weekly in New Orleans, was looking for a fun collaborative promotion to help build the entertainment franchise in a city known for bars, clubs and music.

The weekly already boasted a number of special issues that involved bars and clubs, including the signature Annual Bar Guide and the Top Bars of New Orleans issue.

Strategy:  The Gambit team came up with a simple bracketing contest, in which Gambit's audience voted for their favorite bars in a series of two-by-two rounds. 

The contest was held during MarchMania to fill in the spring contest schedule with a contest that related to "something besides Basketball".

Each bar selected and played for a charity, and the winning bar was awarded $1000 to give to the charity they were playing for.  Online Registration offered two opt-ins for subsequent  reminders before a new round started and an email for new events and promotions

Social boost from Second Street Media's platform also offered a refer a friend program.

"With an eclectic mix of bars in New Orleans, it is hard to determine which bar is the best.  One voter may prefer their local neighborhood bar, while another may love going to the large music club with weekly national acts. We asked our readers 'what's your favorite bar to visit?'" Foster said.

32 bars signed up to compete; sales representatives tapped relationships already established with bars in the area with small, medium and large packages that included print, digital and a promotional component. The rate depended on the advertisers current contract.

They competed in sets of two against each other every week, with the first round match-ups literally selected at random, out of a hat, with witnesses looking on. The mix of large and small bars and random selection ensured "an element of surprise."

At the end of each round one of each of the two competing bars was eliminated, reducing the number of bars remaining in the contest from 32 to 16 to 8 to 4, until only two remained.

The ultimate winner was the New Orleans Mid City Yacht Club, who had selected the charity, Team Gleason.

"They are just very popular," Foster said, "and did a great job of spreading the word each round."

Results:  3,600 people voted and most of the 32 bars who entered increased revenues with Gambit from their prior contract levels.  

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

gambit, bars, contests, gleason, foster, best of, New Orleans, bracket, clubs