The Pub Podcast

The Pub Podcast launches March 17, 2021

Braden Social Media has announced The Pub Podcast, launching on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, and hosted by Eric Zimmett. Covering the Food & Beverage Industry through interviews with notable figures throughout Happy Valley, Pa, as well as insight drawn from Zimmett’s decade-long career covering technology.

Braden Social Media is a boutique consultancy in the Food & Beverage Industry helping brands engage with their community through compelling content. Eric Zimmett, Principal at Braden Social Media, has spent his career covering advertising and technology. Zimmett’s research on advertising was developed into coursework ‘Attention and Intent, The Customer’s Path to Purchase’ — taught at Penn State University in the summer of 2014.


Partnering with Toast

Braden Social Media LLC is excited to announce we are now a Local Toast Partner.

“With a shared industry focus on Restaurants & Hospitality, Toast is an ideal local partner, and will add additional resources and industry knowledge to Braden Social Media and our clients, whenever appropriate,” said Braden Social Media Principal Eric Zimmett.

Toast visited State College this month for a nice intro coffee (& Toast) with Braden Social Media to discuss the partnership details and how we’ll work together throughout the year. Cheers to a great partnership!

Toast, Inc. is a cloud-based restaurant software company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company provides a restaurant management and point of sale system. Learn more about Toast at toasttab.com

Braden Social Media Launches “The Pub”

Supporting the Food & Beverage Industry in Happy Valley, Pa

Braden Social Media, a boutique consultancy in the Food & Beverage Industry, has announced the launch of The Pub, supporting F&B brands in Central Pennsylvania, beginning with The Pub Podcast on March 17, 2021 🍀

The Pub from Braden Social Media seeks to bring the Food & Beverage industry back to healthy levels, while maintaining current health & safety standards for guests.

Sláinte 🍻

Sláinte means “health” in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and is commonly used as a drinking toast.

Braden Social Media brings together more than a decade of Social and Public Relations experience along with local groups like State College Eats, and working in partnership with organizations like The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, the official tourism promotion agency for Centre County, and other industry resources like Toast, Inc — all with a shared goal, to bring our industry back to health. Sláinte. The Pub Opens March 17, 2021. 🍀 Join the waitlist by emailing pub@bradensocialmedia.com

Social Media in Hospitality

We are Braden Social Media, LLC, a boutique agency serving the hospitality industry — food & beverage, restaurants, and travel.

hos·pi·tal·i·ty / the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.


Taking hospitality to social Media

Effective social media use begins with the same philosophies we find in the hospitality industry — welcoming visitors into your business, engaging with guests and building relationships.

The first step is developing a social media strategy that aligns with your brand and showcases what guests will find when they visit you in person.

“People go only to places they have already been in their minds.”

Roy H. Williams

The goal is to introduce users to you on social, take them behind the scenes, start building a relationship. And then give them a similar reception when they visit you in person. The closer your social media can be to the actual experience the better.

It should be mentioned that the product – your business – better be one that you feel confident advertising, as marketing can never solve a poorly run business, or poor customer service when the guest arrives.

“A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.”

William Bernbach

How we operate

Braden Social Media LLC specializes in social media for the hospitality industry — restaurants, food & beverage, & travel.

We work with a select number of clients within hospitality, usually between eight and 12, choosing our projects and clients carefully to develop and deliver customized services.

For new customer engagements, our team will first look to diagnose our client’s social media presence — opportunities — then prescribe a solution, which can then be handled internally within the business, or we can take on implementation.

In Good Company

Braden Social Media principal Eric Zimmett has worked within the hospitality industry for the past 10 years — with clients including Kelly’s Steak & Seafood; Federal Taphouse in State College and Harrisburg, Pa; Domino’s Pizza franchise locations; Seven Mountains Wine Cellars; Stonefly Cafe; WR Hickey Beer Distributor; Penn State’s Nittany Lion Inn & Whiskers Pub; Historic Boalsburg, Pa; CATA; Amtran; Quality Inn; & more.

Braden Social Media is now a local Toast partner

“With a shared industry focus on food & beverage, Toast is an ideal local partner, and will add additional resources and industry knowledge to Braden Social Media and our clients, whenever appropriate,” said Braden Social Media Principal Eric Zimmett.

Be a brand customers want to wear on their sleeve

Your customers are on social media, ready to engage with your brand. In fact, they’re likely already engaging, checking-in and commenting. Whether you’re there or not.


Your customers are engaging with your brand without any help from you. The reason why is simple, consumers want to build a relationship with your brand. People want to feel connected to your brand. They wear your brand like their favorite t-shirt. Or sometimes, something even more permanent.

“This sounds crazy, but I think what you’re really saying is ‘I’m part of the people that get this [brand].’ Like ‘I’m part of that group.’ They want to be part of that community and the [product] becomes the badge of that community. I think that’s why it works.” – Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

This phenomenon didn’t arrive with social media; it existed long before Facebook. And it will be here long after. So make sure your willingness to connect, and embrace your customers, is a philosophy that’s embedded deep within your brand, part of your company culture.

How we built our brand

By founder Eric Zimmett

When I launched my agency in 2014, my first step — almost before securing any clients — was developing the brand. As a social brand agency, I wanted to treat the agency as our first client.

I chose Braden, my middle name, as our company name — first with Braden Zimmett LLC then later in Braden Social Media LLC.

After initial research, I found that the name Braden had an interesting history and some potential branding options. Braden is derived from an Irish Gaelic word meaning “salmon.” Immediately I recalled that salmon Swim Upstream (and a quick Google search confirmed). Though I thought that was a bit too cliche for a tagline. So I tweaked it a bit.

Swim Against The Stream had a nice ring to it. Another search revealed, surprisingly, that the domain name was available, swimagainstthestream.com. Sure it was a lengthy domain, but any time you can own your brand or slogan on social media is a bonus. I also noticed that the hashtag #SwimAgainstTheStream was used some but not as much as other variations. That’s a plus too, I thought.

Braden Social Media first logo

Next I created our first logo, a simple badge design with the letters “BZ” in the center, for Braden Zimmett. Though I inserted a little fish in the bottom to showcase our salmon origin.

My first intern, Emily Burke, thought the fish looked out of place. But I told her I had bigger things in mind (I just wasn’t sure what that was yet).

I began to dig deeper into the Braden name, soon finding it had even more history, mythology even. In Irish Folklore, bradán feasa is the ‘Salmon of Knowledge.”

Scales on the Big Fish or Salmon of Knowledge sculpture in Northern Ireland celebrates the return of fish to the River Lagan

“According to Celtic legend, an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that fell into the well of wisdom. By this act, the salmon gained the world’s knowledge. The first person to eat of its flesh would, in turn, gain this knowledge.”

A fantastic tale of a poet, Finneces, and his student Finn McCool. Swim Against The Stream… The Salmon of Knowledge… Finn McCool… Now this is something I can really see my brand embracing. Next I edited my own version of the tale and sent it to a voice-over artist to record. Listen below: 

With a little work, we had developed a brand name, a logo and a connected to a story.

I felt a strong connection to the story, the slogan and the brand. 

Granted, few visitors to bradensocial.com will feel what I feel when recounting this brand story, or telling the history of Finn McCool and the Salmon of Knowledge. But that’s not important.

What matters is giving the brand a story, and making sure the story has meaning — that our brand stands for something.

Braden Social Media

How we started Social Guerrilla Marketing

Our Social Guerrilla Marketing started in 2015 almost by accident working with the Student Book Store. The store’s mascot, Bookie the Bear, had been all but forgotten.

We wanted to resurrect his presence on social media by having him take over the store’s Twitter account for the week in #BookieTakeover. For that we’d stage photos and have the mascot take unconventional photos like Bookie diving into a dumpster, riding the Nittany Lion statue or sitting among students in the Hub.

For a few hours any many miles we walked on campus, one of us – a lucky intern of course – in a very sweat-inducing costume. We got just about all the shots we wanted and considered the shoot a success. Including a chance encounter with another mascot known to Penn Staters across the country — The Nittany Lion himself, who also tweeted a photo of the encounter, though later deleted it, likely after discovering The Student Book store directly competes with the Penn State Book Store.

What we didn’t anticipate was the live, experiential marketing benefit of the promotion, with many students and strangers reacting very positively to the promo and Bookie the Bear.

Moving forward we wanted to better plan and encourage both the social media effects but also the in-person experiential-marketing promo — thus our Social Guerrilla Marketing was born.

It certainly made a mark in our community, generating buzz in the streets, on social media and in the news. Onward State, the student-run news site, picked up the story shortly thereafter in Bookie The Bear: The Student Book Store’s Resurrected (And Creepy) Mascot by Mike Reisman.

On any given day, you can see a near innumerable number of strange things on campus, from students unicycling to class, to a guy in a red sweatshirt screaming at you about your sins, and even a girl putting a hat on a squirrelRecently, however, some students may have seen something even stranger: a human-sized blue bear walking around campus committing atrocities like ruining Oreos, and eating food at the HUB while staring aimlessly into space.

The National Association of College Stores, NACS, also spotted our promo and recognized how The Student Book Store had updated its old mascot. In Campus Marketplace, Student Store Brings Back Bookie the Bear by Dan Angelo

Once we did the #BookieTakeover of our Twitter account, he kind of took off,” The Student Book Store’s Michael Woytowich said. “A lot of people were interested in what we were doing. We actually had students take time out of their studying to take snapshots of themselves with the bear. We had a lot of fun with it and were encouraged with the response.

Since that first promo in 2015, we’ve now executed another half a dozen promos — for restaurants, retailers, public transit agencies and now grocery delivery services. Clients including Harpers in downtown State College; AMTRAN in Altoona, Pa; Go2Gro grocery delivery in State College; and more. Featuring Instagram photo frames; Halloween accessories; a wooden whale for Vineyard Vines mascot, Whaley; a giant Weis grocery bag; a man-sized Tomato costume; thousands of impressions and experiences for clients, fans and our agency.

From the ad archives: Super Bowl Advertising

‘From the ad archives’ features articles written by Braden Social’s founder Eric Zimmett throughout his career in advertising. The first in this series originally appeared on his personal blog, Eric’s Ad Blog, in January of 2011.

When I sat down to compose this week’s post,  I was initially going to write why Super Bowl ads are a waste of money. Why unless the ad is as big as the game itself, I began, then the advertiser should stay out of the game.

But then it hit me like the Packers Clay Mathews slamming Ben Roethlisberger to the Cowboys Stadium turf: the Super Bowl is the best thing in the advertising world. A stage to showcase the best ideas. And the pressure that will hopefully let the creative rise to the top. The Super Bowl attracts millions. Some for the game, many for the ads. As an ad man myself, how much better can it get?

The Super Bowl provides the world’s largest stage for spreading your message. 106 Million for Super Bowl XLIV in 2010,  the most-watched program in U.S. history. So, as far as the numbers go, it’s a perfect opportunity to make an impact. If used correctly.

The problem is, most advertisers use that opportunity to entertain. If they take the entertainment route, I’m afraid that’s all that occurs. The audience may be amused for 30 or 60 seconds; the ad may even get to the top of the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter. But does it accomplish anything else?

Here are the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter results from Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

Still remember any of those?

In the best case scenario, an advertiser’s $3-Million-spot (the going rate for a 30-second ad in this year’s game) entertains and informs, and any entertainment therein is somehow tied to the brand. Hopefully there’s a connection with the consumer.

Sometimes it looks more like ads were created by Entertainment Agencies, rather than Advertising Agencies.

I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. In some cases, humor works perfectly. Sometimes entertaining the audience is the best way to go.  But it’s not done easily. A lot of it depends on the business category. Is it one of style or one of substance?

“This sounds crazy, but I think what you’re really saying is ‘I’m part of the people that get this humor.’ Like ‘I’m part of that group.’ They want to be part of that community and the [product] becomes the badge of that community. I think that’s why it works.” – Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

The real question is how to make a Super Bowl ad stick.

I imagine there’s one theme in the production meetings for every Super Bowl ad: Think Big. And “big” doesn’t necessarily mean crazy, outrageous or shocking. As ad legend David Ogilvy once said, “Big ideas are usually simple ideas.”

Though sometimes that’s exactly what “big” means. Take, for example, “1984,” which aired in Super Bowl XVIII on Jan. 22, 1984. Created by Chiat/Day, “1984” introduced the Apple Macintosh to the would.

1984 Apple’s First Macintosh Commercial

“Every year at the Super Bowl, somebody calls and wants to talk about ‘1984.’ And people keep trying to explain why it was such a breakthrough. Some people point to the fact that we never showed the product. Some people point to the fact that the Super Bowl has this vast audience and nobody had ever done anything quite this dramatic. Some people point to the fact that we only ran it once. But I really think it’s…one of those ‘everything happened just right.'” – Lee Clow, chief creative officer, Chiat Day.

So here are my two “points” on why I think 1984 worked, two things that made it stick. Point No. 1) a reason for a BIG commercial: the introduction of the Apple Macintosh personal computer, a breakthrough at the time. Point No. 2) a completely unexpected, unusual and theatrical commercial from Chiat/Day that likely made you drop your bag of Lay’s Potato Chips.

That’s what each advertiser strives for. To make its ads stick in the consumer’s mind for years to come. Maybe that’s done with something “big.” Maybe that’s done with humor, or talking frogs. Maybe it’s done with a simple, yet compelling, message.

That’s what makes advertising so exciting: there’s no sure-fire way to make a great ad. There’s no ‘Silver Bullet.’ (Did Coors Light come to mind there?)

This Sunday, as the world tunes in for Super Bowl XLV, watch the ads as closely as you watch the game. And while you’re watching, take a step back and try to determine why the ad is there. Why it works, or doesn’t work. It just might be that the ad you’re watching will be talked about for the next 25 years. But, more importantly, an ad this Super Bowl Sunday might accomplish all that really matters in business. It might create a customer.

Will that customer be you?