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Bad Reviews Turned Into Creative Advertisement

If you think that a one-star review is the worst thing that can happen to a business, I have a story for you. Actually, I have three stories. Three different, wonderful, inspiring stories on how businesses turned negative reviews into great promotions and in one case, in a new successful product.




A Cheap Place to Get Drunk.


Cucina is a deli by day, fine diner by night and, a favorite food and wine supplier for many Salt Lakers. It is been around for 25 years, longer than Yelp and even longer than Google. When someone granted Cucina a lonely star, the owner of the place saw it not as a tragedy but as an opportunity. He asked designer Amy Allsop to turn it into something clever and that is how Cucina's all-time-favorite poster was born.

"Not neighborhood friendly," complained SW on Google. "A cheap place to get drunk." Amy circled these words with a wine glass stain and dropped the diner's contact below it, so everyone can easily find the place described. This art piece was posted on Cucina's social media and got an overwhelming response. Loyal customers rushed to express love and devotion to their favorite eatery.


"The quality of your turkey sandwiches with cranberry mayo would require outright hostility to make me even consider withholding patronage," proclaims in the comments Nick.


The promising one-star review brought more business to Cucina. "...can't wait to check it out! Sounds like my kind of place," says Kellie.


The poster got so much love online that it was printed out and became a part of the interior decoration.



Too Advanced. Not Fun!


Greg from Los Angeles visited a Snowbird ski resort in Uta and was hugely disappointed with the condition of the trails. “Too advanced,” stated he in a one-star review. “I’d heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”



Advanced trails might be no fun for Greg, but it is exactly what many ski lovers all over the world are looking for. Snowbird used his and a handful of other disappointed riders and turned it into a full magazine spread advertising.

Accompanied with the pictures of gorgeous mountain sceneries and spectacular ski riders these one-star reviews look more like an endorsement than complaints. Even you are not into winter sports, these eye-catchy spreads will grab your attention and put a smile on your face.



Bad Review into a Bestseller Product


If only Barry knew what impact his one-star review would make on Gillerson's Grubbery, he would destroy his laptop and sink his cellphone in a toilet. He would do anything to avoid any temptation to make such a crucial mistake. However, lacking the gift of prophecy, Barry went to the Internet to express his utter dissatisfaction with the restaurant. He mentioned that he visited the place on three occasions and every single time he experienced underwhelming food and terrible service. Barry wished Gillerson's to go out of business in the nearest future. Gillerson's management was heartbroken. They repeatedly tried to reach out to Barry, eager to learn the details of the incidents and make it up to him. Unsuccessful. As a last attempt to set things straight, they created a new affordable burger, named it after Barry, and shared the whole story on Social Media. By the end of the day, the post had 159 reposts, reached more than 30 000 people and over a hundred Barry Burgers were sold. Happy clients were sharing pictures of them bitting into a delicious and affordable $7 burger. It was supposed to be a one-day special but turned first into a week of rising sales. Several days in a row Gillerson's were running out of burgers in a matter of hours and had to close the kitchen early - such a wonderful problem to have in the middle of a pandemic when so many other restaurants struggling to get by. Barry, the person who is responsible for this overwhelming success, never responded to Gillerson's messages but took the time to delete his comment. Maybe in this very moment, he is biting on a burger that was named after him; the very same burger that had beaten all sales records, and eventually became a part of the restaurant menu.

Barry Burgers prepared for delivery, photo courtesy of Gillerson Grubbery

Usually, getting complaints is stressful, upsetting, and has a real potential to hurt our business. Unlike the inspiring examples from Cucina, Snowbird, and Gillerson's, most of the negative reviews can not be used as advertising, but they can give us crucial feedback and help us improve. Discouraged customers with reasonable complaints can become our loyal patrons if we listen to them and set things straight. Just like so many other challenges in life, negative reviews help us improve, push us to be more creative and if we respond to them smartly, make us only