Despite being home to some of the best restaurants in the world, the food served in New York City public schools is some of the worst. We wanted to raise awareness about the unhealthy food NYC children are given to eat every day and encourage the NYC Mayor’s office and the Department of Education to make school lunches healthy.
We hacked Yelp so that parents could finally hold their children’s NYC public school cafeteria to the same standards as food establishments everywhere. After researching NYC public records, we identified one of the worst school cafeterias in the city and created a website and Yelp profile for The Caton Cafe—a new restaurant with the same name, address, and menu as the cafeteria.
Simultaneously, we worked through Yelp’s API to unearth the worst-reviewed restaurants in NYC to determine the threshold of low-star ratings and reviews we would need to become the worst restaurant in NYC.
Our street and social teams mobilized parents to review the restaurant on Yelp and sign our online petition demanding healthier school lunches.
In 2 weeks, more than 250 1-star reviews were posted to Yelp and we officially became the worst reviewed restaurant in NYC. Once we revealed this, Yelp actively began removing reviews it deems too awful to recommend until social influencers on Yelp, known as Yelp Elite, added their reviews and increased our credibility.
Upon publicizing that our restaurant was, in fact, a NYC public school cafeteria, CBS aired the story, driving another surge of support, as well as a pledge from Chancellor Carranza of the NYC Department of Education to convene a panel to improve school meals.
There were hundreds of signatures from concerned parents on our petition when it was sent to the Mayor’s office and the Department of Education in April 2018.
Managing Director:Tim Hawkey
Group Creative Director:Bernardo Romero
Svp:Bernardo Romero, Jesse Kates
Creative Director:Jesse Kates
Associate Creative Director:Amy Fortunato, Andrea Bistany
VPs:Amy Fortunato, Andrea Bistany
Copy Supervisor:Austin Sabattis
Art Supervisor:Emily Carman
Senior Developer:Suneil Bansi