Do You Even Yelp, Bro?

Oh, Yelp. What an interesting relationship I have with you. I love you when I am trying to find the best place to get my hair done, or which is the best late night pizza delivery place. I hate you when I read bad reviews about restaurants I work for, when people write that our food is “flavorless” and that they had to wait to be seated even though there was tables open. My restaurant deserves five stars, not four diluted from people with bad taste in food and people who don’t understand the concept of reservations.

Yelp can really impact a restaurant, or company, either negatively or positively. That’s why I found it rather humorous when I read an article from AdWeek.com titled “This Restaurant Wants to Be the Worst Rated on Yelp, and the Reviews Are Indeed Hilarious.” My original thought was, “wow they must actually be really bad and proud of it.” But then I read the article, and I was very wrong. Turns out, Yelp somewhat bullied Botto Bistro into advertising through their sight, supposedly up to “20 times a week.” Owner David Cerretini stopped advertising, and noticed that his reviews started turning sour, and even his best reviews disappeared, which, legally, is something Yelp is allowed to do.

Cerretini came up with the plan of encouraging his customers to write “1-star reviews” on his restaurant’s Yelp page in return for 25% off a pizza. The reviews are quite funny, my favorite one being:Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 1.33.08 PM

 I am curious about if the restaurant has caught any backlash from those who can’t read sarcasm from a mile away. I am a very sarcastic person, and I absolutely love it when restaurants/companies have a sense of humor about their businesses.

I checked out the restaurant’s website, and the place seems really good! The website itself has really funny links on it, such as their “Yelp Us” link on the side bar, which explains their position on the whole Yelp debacle, as well as a “Hall of Shame” link, which highlights the restaurant’s favorite “1-star reviews.” One of the funniest parts of the website is in the “Hall Of Shame” description, which at one point reads, “In Italy we don’t have Yelp. Italians spend most of their time eating, getting laid and talking to real friends (not the ones on Facebook). SO we don’t fully understand why people spend so much time writing on the Internet to imaginary friends or imaginary followers.”

What do all of you think of Botto Bistro’s advertising technique? Do you think that this sort of negative-review based could work for other companies? Why or why not?

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5 thoughts on “Do You Even Yelp, Bro?

  1. I just read about this on Facebook! I think the idea is funny and a good gimmick to get customers through the door. It reminds me of the fun behind Dick’s Last Resort’s rudeness.

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  2. I think this idea is so funny. I am also extremely sarcastic so I find this type of stuff great. It seems to really be helping the restaurant out, so I see no problem. Yelp sounds pretty shady also so I am glad they are able to mess with the system .

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  3. That’s pretty clever! A great way to turn bad PR into good PR. All reviews are sketchy because it’s impossible to tell who’s really posting. I think they are great in theory, but they create a firestorm and cause more issues than they are truly helpful for business.

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  4. When I first read the headline of this article earlier today, I was curious about how negative reviews could help a restaurant. Now that I understand the concept, I think it is an interesting technique that has clearly created a lot of buzz for the restaurant. Granted this has probably devalued all of the genuine Yelp reviews, but I guess it’s an even better reason for people to go try it out themselves.

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  5. I think it’s great they were able to use this as a publicity stunt. Yelp is probably kicking themselves for this now, but thats ok. My company (At Home Inn Chicago) went through something similar. Yelp would ask us to pay for additional advertising, and when we would, 5 good reviews would pop up on our site, and the bad ones would drop to the bottom.

    Its shady- to say the least.

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