Class Shaorma is a fast-food restaurant in Iași. The main objective of the campaign is to establish Class as the owner of the ‘shaorma in DEX’ concept. The campaign reached 15 news on national TV, 13 on radio and 90% of Google search by ‘shaorma DEX’ which return news linked to this campaign.                                                                     

1. The campaign theme

1.1. The organization that benefited from the campaign

Class is the most renowned and longest-running independent fast-food restaurant in Iași, the second-largest city in Romania. Since 1996, it has continuously strengthened its reputation as a popular place for people with an active lifestyle, particularly students.

Starting in 2018, Class has also invested in the online food ordering and home delivery system, which has proven to be an undeniable success.
The star of the Class menu is the oriental dish shawarma, commonly adopted by Romanians as shaorma.

1.2. The opportunity
Class started as a small family business and soon became a well-known delivery system in one of Romania’s greatest cities. Now, it is eager to expand nationally through a franchise system.

The first challenge we faced was to find a way to position Class Shaorma in the minds of Romanians while having a relatively small marketing budget. We asked ourselves, “how do we want people to describe this product?”. In other words, what association do we want potential  ustomers to make with this product?

2. The Research

2.1. Part I – The logical approach

Our research’s scope was finding a rational, measurable differentiation that would identify Class Shaorma on the national market.

We examined delivery times, cooking methods, ingredients, production capacities, packaging and transport processes, location facilities, payment methods, predominant types of customers, and others.
We reached a clear conclusion: in a competitive fast-food market, a rational differentiation would be fragile and volatile. For this reason, we decided to look outside the box and search for an emotional product

2.2. Part II – The Dark Side of the Moon

Dare to discover something that doesn’t exist (yet). 

After looking into every single attribute and piece of information about the fast-food market and shaorma consumption in Romania, we chose to explore the land of ‘what if.’ Consequently, we wondered: What if shaorma was the most popular and quintessential dish in Romania?  What would one find about it? Would it have a museum devoted to it?  Would there be tourist tasting tours? Maybe it would be mentioned in the history books? Could you find it in a dictionary? BINGO!

The word ‘shaorma’ (in any of the currently used versions – ‘shaorma’ / ‘şaorma’ / ‘shawarma’), is not present in dictionaries, including DEX (or DLR – The Dictionary of Romanian Language), an academic landmark of Romanian lexicography.

3. The Planning

3.1. Defining campaign objectives and evaluation criteria 

The main general objectives for the campaign were:
• The marketing objective: gaining notoriety for Class Shaorma, 1.000.000 OTS in 5 college towns: Iași, Bucharest, Cluj, Timișoara, Brașov, targeted for franchising.

• The PR objective: establishing Class as the owner of the ‘shaorma in DEX’ concept.

Consequently, we wanted the public to perceive Class Shaorma as ‘the official shaorma’, the one and only that fights for this product’s rights and status in our country. We set out for at least five articles displayed in the first three pages of Google searches by the terms ‘shaorma in DEX’.

We sought to get at least one appearance on national television and be mentioned in 5 online national newspapers.

3.2. Identifying the target audience
3.2.1. The primary target audience – the potential franchisees, businessmen who would consider a profitable product for a large mass of people from a specialized brand with a profitable business model. We aimed to ensure them about Class brand authority and dedication for shaorma.

3.2.2. The secondary target audience – the media. The journalists were addressed for their ability to provide comprehensive media coverage on our concept and to drive an active conversation about it.

3.2.3. Another target audience we tackled were the linguists, who would feel compelled to express their thoughts about including the definition of the word ‘shaorma’/’șaorma’ in DEX. 

3.3. Messages vs. audiences 

3.3.1. The general audience had to know that “Class, an Iași-based fast-food restaurant, will put ‘shaorma’ in DEX”. The challenge in involving this audience segment was encouraging them to express their opinion on
the correct spelling: ‘shaorma’ or ‘șaorma’?

3.3.2. The journalist and bloggers received an unusual but relevant news topic: “shaorma, one of Romania’s most beloved dishes, is not yet listed in DEX, so a local fast-food company asks The Romanian Academy to do something about it”.

3.3.3. The linguists were given a new debate matter: “what would be the preferred spelling for the word ‘shaorma’ in the next edition of DEX?

3.4. Selecting the most effective communication channels

We chose three channels for spreading our campaign message: 

• Social media platforms, serving as an informational backbone and debate ground for our general following;
• Press release, for disseminating the information to the media;

• Direct communication for approaching linguists, asking them to back-up our initiative with an expert perspective that would fuel the debate.

Our team crafted the following communication materials:
• Visual content for social media;
• A survey post on the restaurant’s Facebook page;
• Customized items for the restaurant: tablecloths, posters, table prints;
• Documentation to be reviewed by the 

4. The implementation

4.1. The survey 

We opened a poll on Class Facebook page, asking the followers to vote their preferred way of spelling: ‘shaorma’ or ‘șaorma’? 

4.2. Engaging the linguists

We requested expert opinions from well-known linguists that brought valid scientific arguments for the word forms suggested by Class.

4.3. Themed personalization

We ensured the restaurant interior advertised the campaign to encourage people to participate and vote on the Facebook page. 

4.4. Approaching the Romanian Academy

We sent the Romanian Academy a message stating our support for listing the word ‘shaorma’ / ‘șaorma’ in DEX, along with the online survey results and the linguists’ take on the matter.

4.5. The press release

The press release comprised:
•The description of Class’ initiative to include the word ‘shaorma’ or ‘șaorma’ in the next edition of DEX;
•The well-founded opinions of the linguists;
•The partial results of the ongoing online survey;
•A call to action to stimulate the people to vote.

4.6. Social media activity

As articles about the campaign began to be featured in the media, we distributed and advertised them on the Class Facebook page.

4.7. Obstacles

The main barrier was the lack of a procedure by which someone could propose or support listing a word in the dictionary. The activity was accessible exclusively to Romanian Academy members. 

We have no choice but to come up with a rather vague message: “Class started to advocate for including the word ‘shaorma’ in DEX.” 
A self-imposed quest was to go back to the origin: genuine PR, capable of unfolding an authentic piece of news that would generate buzz and go viral immediately. 

5. Evaluation

The campaign led to 154 press materials, including:

15 news on national TV

ProTV, Antena 1, Antena 3, Digi, 24, România TV, 35 minutes;

13 radio coverages

including the national mainstream stations: Europa FM, Radio România Actualități, București FM, Kiss FM, Magic FM, Radio ZU, Virgin Radio – 20 minutes;

90% of Google searches

by the terms ‘shaorma DEX’ (first three pages of results) return news linked to this campaign.

published on the main national newspapers
(online edition)

Adevărul, Evenimentul Zilei, Wall Street,
Gândul, Libertatea, Hotnews, Jurnalul,
DCNews, Times New Roman ș.a

News on the two leading
national news agencies:

Agerpress și Mediafax.


Opportunities to See (OTS):


6. Creativity and innovation

6.1. Shaorma.

From the streets to the table of the elites In Romanian pop culture, shaorma is a humorous subject generally preferred by a less lofty audience. We strived to give it a more serious dimension through this campaign and put the issue “on the table” of educated people.

By bringing up a linguistic dilemma in the public agenda, we succeeded  in engaging public figures in a pertinent conversation unfolding on well-established and credible media channels.

6.2. Debate vs. dispute

We made space for debating, not disputing, replacing ‘fight against’ with ‘fight for’. Every person involved in the campaign, either with opinions or votes, was encouraged to express and justify their regard on the matter without attacking the other side.