Italian Pizza restaurant Botto Bristo is asking for customers to rate their restaurant as one star on Yelp. Except they are not only asking – they are pointing out the restaurant’s flaws and rewarding customers for their negative reviews. Owner David Cerrentini claims the promotion is “the best business move I have made in years.” I recommend reading through some of the reviews!
Cerrentini says the promotion started when Yelp blackmailed them. Yelp would call Cerrentini 20 times a week asking him to advertise. When he did stop advertising with Yelp, the reviews became negative and one of his best reviews was deleted.
But one has to wonder whether the promotion was just a campaign to spite Yelp and undermine the website. It is quite possible that this was a strategic marketing move. There are multiple incentives that may have encouraged this bizarre marketing tactic. Firstly a restaurant with many negative and funny reviews is likely to draw attention. Media would swarm to this unique story. Customers wanting to use Yelp for entertainment may search through one star rated restaurants.
Secondly the promotion would localise the restaurant and make visitors esteem the venue more. Two things most people enjoy are getting their voice heard and discounts. Even though their ratings were mostly faux they still would have enjoyed writing hilarious reviews. Some customers appear to have really gotten into it:
I see this promotion as having a two birds with one stone effect. It really might just be the best move this small pizza restaurant has made in years!