The Yellow Pages Treehouse Restaurant story!

Night View

To prove that anyone could get any job done in New Zealand using the Yellow Pages, the marketing team of Yellow Pages challenged an unknown accordian player to build a restaurant… Ten meters up a tree!

In August 2008, Yellow Pages put out the following job offer: ”We require a project managing, restaurant operating, television presenter!”

Over 200 applicants made home videos detailing why Yellow Pages should pick them for this rather bizarre but unique oppotunity and eventually a lady by the name of Tracey Collins won the right to show what she was made of.

Tracey’s task was “simple”: Use only the Yellow Pages listings (the book, online and mobile) to build a restaurant in a tree.

To boost awareness of the campaign, the Yellow Pages created a comprehensive marketing and advertising strategy to let everyone know what they were doing.

Once the project got underway, Tracey based herself in an old redwood forest where the project would unfold and began calling on businesses around New Zealand listed in Yellow Pages to help her.

It’s not often that a commission to design a treehouse is offered, so when Yellow Pages briefed Pacific Environments Architects about this ‘reality’ TV advert for an off-the-wall functioning restaurant, Pacific Environments jumped at the opportunity.

As construction got underway, Yellow Pages kept followers updated with regular info about the treehouse via their website which garnered over 150,000 unique visitors each month.

Two popular features of the website were Tracey’s daily blog as well as an ongoing picture gallery of all the progress.  Every business that contributed to the project was recognized on the site and a link enabled visitors to see each of their Yellow Pages listings.

As the project progressed,  it gained more and more media interest in New Zealand and around the world as it featured on over 10,000 different websites including Kanye West’s blog of cool stuff.

In the end, more than 65 listed businesses in the Yellow Pages were involved in the project; from the architects and builders to the printer of the menus, even the guy who crafted table coasters from left-over wood.

Despite the curve-ball of having to build a 30-meter wheelchair access ramp to comply with council building consent, on the 13th of December 2008, Tracey opened the 30-seater treehouse restaurant for bookings. Within hours, every day of January was booked for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Over the following month, more than 2,000 people were dined in the restaurant while thousands more stopped by the incredible sight to take photos and gaze on this unique and creative marketing project.

Research showed Yellow Pages brand measures had moved in all the desired directions – Unpromtped brand awareness increased by 37% and this campaign was at least three times more effective than any other Yellow Pages campaign.

This specific tale might be four years old but the lessons learned are timeless. At the end of the marketing funnel are real people, not robots. And these people respond to marketing that talks to them like they’re living, breathing people.

More than ever I believe marketing is all about telling a good story. It’s why I do what I do. Long live creative and engaging marketing!

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Here are some amazing pictures of the completed project. Click on the image to see the detail:

About the author: Mark Sham

Mark Sham

NOT the boy next door. Entrepreneur at heart with a marketing background and a love for social media. Owner of Vivid Marketing!

1 comment

  1. Tony Sham says:

    Hi Mark, this is a classic case study in creative marketing.

    Unfortunately they can’t teach you creativity in school, you have to develop it.

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