Background. Max Asnas opened The Stage Deli in 1937 and it has been an American icon ever since. The Stage is known for its overstuffed sandwiches, honoring celebrities of the stage, screen, and sports.
Actions. Porte created advertising, PR, and promotions to increase top of mind awareness and communicate the value of sandwiches whose cost was anywhere from $11 – $19. At the same time, an effort was made to increase restaurant traffic during off-peak hours.
After a series of press releases reminded food journalists of The Stage's heritage, articles appeared touting the size of The Stage's sandwiches and its storied history. This is standard big agency thinking — often the right thing to do.
Advertising in magazines distributed in hotels demonstrated the size — and value — of Stage Deli sandwiches. The small agency ingenuity was the creative ideas generated, as well as the fact that Porte negotiated a front cover story about The Stage in City Guide, the most widely distributed hotel publication.
A series of print ads — many of which were displayed in one of the most valuable media locations in New York, the Stage's own windows — provided a clever and pointedly New York perspective on the value and substantial size of Stage sandwiches.
The Stage offers great breakfast value — and portions — in an area surrounded by hotels charging untold amounts for a soft-boiled egg. PR, compelling in-store signage and collateral materials quickly reacquainted people with breakfast at The Stage.
The "Lo Carb. Schmo Carb" advertising for Stage Deli cheesecake did two things: 1) poked gentle fun at Atkins and South Beach diets and 2) sold some additional cheesecake at dinner and post-theater. The advertising got the attention of BrandWeek, which featured the campaign.
Presidential Election Poll
Porte and The Stage challenged people to "vote with your mouth" in the last presidential election. Porte created the program, whereby patrons could vote for their favorite candidate by ordering one of two identical sandwiches — either the "George Bush" or the "John Kerry" — in the weeks leading up to the 2004 election. Porte created menu cards, buttons and issued weekly "poll updates." Lester Holt interviewed Stage co-owner Steve Auerbach on MSNBC and National Public Television featured the poll on one of its evening newscasts.
Valentines Day is a time for romance, roses and everything heart-shaped. A traditional solution might be to create a heart-shaped cheesecake for lovers. We couldn't do that — too "expected." Porte urged our client to make a heart-shaped chopped liver! Window signs were made, the media was alerted and everyone who wanted to report "interesting and unexpected" Valentines Day offerings reported on our chopped liver.
It is no secret in the deli business that one of the slowest weeks of the year is Passover, when traditional Jews forego the pleasures of bread. This year, Porte introduced a "Matzoh Brei Menu" featuring 6 different versions of this Passover staple. Several publications reported the menu and The Daily News printed a photo and the recipe.
The Stage continues its tradition of naming sandwiches after celebrities. Recent additions include: Martin Short, Kathy Brier, Mark Hamill, the Divas from Mamma Mia, and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.