Maggiano's Lighter Take

Maggiano’s is famous for hearty, celebratory fare - but with a changing demographic and consumer mindset, they were facing a relevancy and frequency challenge.  So the chefs at Maggiano’s built a new Lighter Take Menu featuring the same fresh ingredients and portions as their classic pastas, but with only half the calories. They asked us to support them in solving a complex brand challenge: launch the menu in a way that was authentic, engaging and convincing – without cutting into their existing business or their reputation for indulgent celebratory fare.


In order to communicate authentically, we took the strategy of “showing instead of telling” to the extreme. In 12 days, we built what appeared to be a new, intimate, small-batch Italian restaurant in Wicker Park, Chicago. We hid cameras in the plants. We stashed mics in the chandeliers and under the tables. And we hired an actor for the role of the “wunderkind Italian chef.”

did you know?

84% of Millennials don't trust traditional advertising


We named our restaurant Venire a Luce, which means “Come to Light” in Italian.  We invited and hosted 125 unsuspecting influencers at its grand opening and secretly served our Lighter Take menu positioned as full-flavor, high end Italian fare.  We filmed the reactions to the food, and at the end of the meal, we introduced the real geniuses behind the menu - Maggiano’s executive chefs. Just a few days later, we had everything we needed to build and launch an integrated campaign to share the Lighter Take menu in a meaningful way.

The interactive campaign had many components including video, digital media, social, email and influencer outreach.  We concepted and launched, a site that served as a hub for the campaign. There, users could relive the experience of Venire a Luce, discover the passion and innovations of each dish complete with lots of sharable content. Most importantly, we worked to drive interested guests to book a reservation.

Insights-driven creative, meticulous attention to detail, and make-it-happen execution all come together when you have the privilege of working with Kyle Taylor and his team. They immediately understood our business challenge and brought to the table a breakthrough creative approach. The best ideas make you nervous, asking yourself “how are we going to pull that off?” Kyle and his team delivered, only reinforcing my high regard for both their creative vision and his ability to execute against that vision. Think of Fact & Fiction when you’re faced with the toughest of business challenges – you won’t be disappointed.

Michael Breed
Senior Director of Marketing, Maggiano's Little Italy


• Reservations up 327% 

• Location click thru up 265% 

• 20% trial of a new menu

• Brand affinity up 13% 

• “One of the top 50 ideas of 2014” – Ad Club

What's important about this case study?

Many brands are seeking an innovative and strategic way to preserve credibility with advocates while expanding to reach new audiences. For Maggiano’s, we delivered an authentic guest experience and an integrated digital campaign in a way that’s creative, cost-effective, and guaranteed to drive traffic.

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