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Wild Peeta Shawarma

-The Evolution of a Shawarma

MA in Corporate Communication
Author: Nicola Ellegaard
Supervisor: Steen Michael Hejndorf
Department of Language and Business Communication
Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus
June 2012


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how social media marketing is used in a
small business, Wild Peeta Shawarma, for communicating with stakeholders. The
thesis also seeks to evaluate if social media marketing is a viable strategy for
expanding the brand.

The thesis used a case study with qualitative interviews as research design, resulting
in a descriptive study based on the interpretive worldview. Some longitudinal
observations were made.

The thesis concludes that Wild Peeta employs elements from tribal, engagement,
participation and relationship marketing, but also concludes that some activities may
also be interpreted as deeply rooted in Arabic and Islamic traditions.

Research limitations/implications:
The study used field research but only in a limited period of time because of the
distant location.


Abstract p. 2

1. Introduction p. 5
1.1 Problem statement p. 6
1.2 Research questions p. 6

2. Method p. 6
2.1 Overview of the project p. 6
2.2 Research methodology p. 6
2.3 The case study method p. 11
2.4 Data collection p. 12
2.5 Delimitation p. 17

3. Company background p. 18
3.1 Wild Peeta Timeline p. 21
3.2 Internet and social media in the United Arab Emirates p. 22
3.3 Twitter p. 22
3.4 Posterous p. 23

4. Literature review p. 24
4.1 Postmodern marketing p. 24
4.2 Tribalism and tribal marketing p. 25
4.3 Consequence: New marketing p. 26
4.4 Relationship marketing p. 26
4.5 Integrated marketing communication (IMC) p. 28
4.6 IMC and social media p. 29
4.7 Engagement marketing p. 30
4.8 Participation marketing p. 31

5. Case analysis p. 32
5.1 Overview: The Wild Peeta community p. 41
5.2 Stakes and stakeholders p. 44
5.3: Tribal features p. 46

6. CSR from a Middle Eastern perspective p. 48

7. The strategic value of Wild Peeta's social media marketing p. 52
7.1 Co-creation experiences p. 56

8. Conclusion p. 58

Literature p. 60


1. Introduction

Social media marketing has generated a lot of hype during the last decade. Some
companies have been very successful at communicating with their stakeholders online,
while others believe it is only a matter of creating a Facebook Page or setting up a Twitter
profile, and then the rest will follow. There are many examples of failed attempts to reach
stakeholders through online communication, and social media marketing is not always as
easy as it seems.
Since Twitter marketing is not really used in Denmark, the researcher had to
turn abroad to find international examples of successful online communication instead.
While searching for information about restaurants and lodging for a trip to Dubai, Wild
Peeta Shawarma appeared in Google's search results with a link to their Twitter profile.
The Twitter profile soon stood out as something different, and it was also one of the first
restaurants the researcher had seen on Twitter. Brogan (2010) points out that the way
people use the Internet is constantly changing
. People have become more wary when it
comes to evaluating the information they receive - and with good reason. Nevertheless,
this shawarma restaurant seemed to have something different to offer. What they had to
offer as value proposition to their customer was right there, online presence on various
social media platforms. It was impossible not to feel curious about this restaurant that
everybody seemed to be talking about on Twitter. It had a fan base with loyal customers
who communicated about real things that happened in real life, not just in the restaurant.
The profile was active and 'personal' and with frequent Twitter updates, unlike so many
other brands that establish an online presence without really using it.
Ever since, Wild Peeta Shawarma has been a fascinating business case to
study. Their interaction and engagement with their followers seems almost unprecedented
when comparing to social media marketing in Denmark. Furthermore, the company is
based in a multicultural setting in the United Arab Emirates (The UAE) with 20% local
inhabitants and 80% expat workers from all over the world. The case therefore provides a
unique opportunity to see how a small business tries to connect with existing customers
and followers using social media marketing.

Brogan: Trust Agents p. 7
1.1 Problem statement

The overall objective of this thesis is to investigate how Wild Peeta Shawarma
communicates to its stakeholders using tribal, engagement and participation marketing,
and how the use of social media may contribute to the expansion of the brand.

1.2 Research questions

What is tribal, engagement and participation marketing?
How does Wild Peeta engage with stakeholders using social media?
How does this kind of communication strategy add value to their business?

2. Method

2.1 Overview of the thesis

The first part of sthe thesis provides a theoretical background for the most important
concepts in corporate communication for this case study. The second part of the thesis is
the case study where the framework of theoretical terms is applied for analysis, discussion
and evaluation of the Wild Peeta Shawarma case.

2.2 Research methodology

The interpretive worldview

Neuman defines methodology as "understanding the entire research process - including its
social organizational context, philosophical assumptions, ethical principles, and the
political implications of new knowledge from the research enterprise". Methods are
closely linked to this and refer to the way we gather and analyze data.
Therefore, research
methods must be selected according to specific questions. According to Daymon &
Holloway, two opposite worldviews (or paradigms) have been employed in public
relations and marketing communications research: The interpretive worldview and the
realist (positivist) worldview. Neuman defines paradigms as a "general organizing
framework for theory and research that includes basic assumptions, key issues, models of
quality research, and methods for seeking answers", and also states that positivism has
been the dominant paradigm in social science.
As mentioned by Daymon & Holloway,
the researcher's orientation to either an interpretive or realist worldview will determine the
type of research question chosen for the study and influences the type of investigative
The author of this thesis follows the practices of an interpretive worldview
and approach as described by Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative methods tend to be
associated with the interpretive worldview. This concerns itself with exploring the way
that people 'make sense of their social worlds and how they express these understandings

W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 2
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 94
through language, sound, imagery, personal style and social rituals'".
According to
Daymon & Holloway, this means that interpretive researchers attempt understand social
reality from the point of view of those in it. In this thesis the author aimed to understand
the social reality of the Wild Peeta community by observing events at Wild Peeta and by
interviewing the customers.
Interpretive researchers challenge the notion that social reality is a given,
something 'out there, that shapes people's actions. Instead they draw on social
constructivism which is the idea that the reality that we live and work in is built up over
time through communication, our interactions with those around us, and our shared
Neuman claims that in the stance of interpretive social science, "social reality is
largely what people perceive it to be; it exists as people experience it and assign meaning
to it. Social reality is fluid and fragile, and people construct it as they interact with others
in ongoing processes of communication and negotiation".

Daymon & Holloway point out that interpretive researchers acknowledge that
in order to understand the world of PR & marketing communications, researchers must
first actively engage in it before they can interpret it: "In other worlds, what you discover
in the field isn't determined by the models or theories that you find in the literature before
you begin your investigation".
This interpretive worldview makes it possible to
'conceptualize reality from the point of view of those involved in it', as stated by Daymon
& Holloway.
In the research for this thesis it was attempted to be actively involved in 'the
field' by observing and gathering data before interpreting them. Observations were made
at various physical locations in Dubai during different occasions.
Neuman mentions that most interpretive researchers make use of participant
observation and field research in order to acquire an "in-depth understanding of how
people create meaning in their everyday lives". Neuman also states that interpretive social
science focuses on the way people interact and get along with each other: "the interpretive
approach is the systematic analysis of socially meaningful action through the direct
detailed observation of people in natural settings in order to arrive at understandings and

Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 102
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 5
interpretations of how people create and maintain their social worlds".
positivist/realist researchers assume that everyone experiences the world in the same way,
interpretive researchers assume that multiple interpretations of experiences are possible.
Key questions for interpretive researchers will therefore be concerned with how people
experience the world, and if they create and share meaning, according to Neuman.
Furthermore, Neuman mentions that what interpretive researchers study is meaningful
social action, and not just externally visible actions. It is therefore concerned with
activities with purpose and intent, and actions to which people can attach subjective
Daymon & Holloway also claim that qualitative methods often are seen to be
inseparable form the interpretive worldview, since they allow researchers to get involved
with and close to people they are studying. Qualitative research is focused on words rather
than numbers, and the main insights take place when the researcher is engaging with the
people or phenomena being studied. The interpretation of data will therefore also be
influenced by the researchers own biography and previous experiences. Daymon &
Holloway also emphasize that qualitative research has a holistic focus towards a wide
range of interconnected activities, experiences, beliefs and values depending on the
context - as opposed to one or two isolated (quantitative) variables. Therefore, qualitative
research processes are more flexible, unstructured and sometimes spontaneous.

According to Neuman, qualitative data can be expressed as words, images or
objects, and the qualitative approach has its focus on interactive processes and events that
lead to a construction of social reality and cultural meaning with authenticity being a key
element. Neuman lists the main elements of the qualitative approach as follows

Construct social reality, cultural meaning
Focus on interactive processes and events
Authenticity is the key factor
Values are present and explicit
Theory and data are fused
Constrained to the situation
Few cases and subjects

W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 101
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 6
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 17
Thematic analysis
The researcher is involved

Kvale & Brinkmann state that the qualitative approach "involves focusing on the cultural,
everyday, and situated aspects of human thinking, learning, knowing, acting, and ways of
understanding ourselves as persons, and it is opposed to "technified" approaches to the
study of human lives".

In this thesis, customer comments and insights were studied along with
statements made by the Wild Peeta for analysis and evaluation of the communication
strategies, hence focusing on the qualitative elements of the communication material
rather than quantitative ones.
The thesis is formulated as a descriptive study of the Wild Peeta Shawarma
case. According to Neuman, a great deal of social research is descriptive, and the purpose
of descriptive studies is to paint an accurate picture of specific details of a situation, social
setting, or a relationship. Descriptive research aims to present a picture of types of people
or social activities and focuses on "who" , "when", "where" and "how" questions, for
instance "How often does it happen?" or "Who is involved?". Exploring new topics or
problems is less of a concern. Instead this type of social research focuses on describing
how things are.

According to Daymon & Holloway, qualitative research has a tendency to
begin with inductive reasoning, and then it becomes deductive. This means that
researchers first get ideas form collecting and analyzing the data, and then relate them to
literature and analysis.
In Neuman's words, to theorize in an inductive direction means
"observing the empirical world and then reflecting on what is taking place and thinking in
increasingly more abstract ways".

This thesis also makes use of inductive reasoning since the data was collected
first, and subsequently ideas and hypotheses emerged from the findings in the material.

Kvale & Brinkmann: Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing p. 12
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 6
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 6
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 70
2.3 The case study method

As suggested by Daymon & Holloway, the aim of case study research is to increase
knowledge about "real, contemporary communication events in their context".
characterizes case-study research as a method that investigates either "one or a small set of
cases, focusing on many details within each case and the context".
It scrutinizes both
internal features as well as the surrounding situation, claims Neuman, who furthermore
states that most case-study research uses a qualitative approach, and that this method is
efficient for describing "complex, multiple-factor events/situations and processes that
occur over time and space".

Daymon & Holloway define a case study as

an intensive examination, using multiple sources of evidence (which may be
qualitative, quantitative or both), of a single entity which is bounded by time
and space. Usually it is associated with a location. The case may be an
organization, a set of people such as a social or a work group, a community,
an event, a process, an issue or a campaign.

Additionally, Daymon & Holloway maintain that it is important to define the boundaries
of a case study. In this thesis the case is limited to Wild Peeta - The Evolution Of A
Shawarma, and observations made in physical locations in Dubai during two separate
visits (December 2010, January 2012) as well as information gathered through social
media in between these time points. Having data from two different visits provides the
case study with a longitudinal approach that is fruitful. According to Daymon &
Holloway, the longitudinal approach is one of the greatest advantages of a case study, and
it is also a method that ensures the quality and the validity of the research. A longitudinal
research design "allows you to pay attention to the process by which things come to be as
they are rather on what things are at the present point in time".

Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 105
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 42
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 42
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 105
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 113
Neuman also states that longitudinal studies are more powerful than cross-
sectional research with one time point only. Neuman describes these two kinds of research
as "a snapshot of social life" vs. "a more moving picture of events, people, or social
relations across time".
Various new components have been added to Wild Peeta's
strategy since the author's first visit and time point for data collection, and therefore it is
useful to include these in the analysis.

2.4 Data collection

The documentary sources to gather information for the case study included both primary
and secondary sources. As primary sources, three separate interviews were carried out to
understand and explore the case. Daymon & Holloway suggest that interviews are a useful
way of collecting data because they "allow you to explore the perspectives and
perceptions of various stakeholders and publics".
For this thesis, interviews were used to
understand the background and strategy behind Wild Peeta, and to analyze the wider
context and links between key constituents of the Wild Peeta community.
Seidman states that interviewing is a useful method because it "provides access
to the context of people's behavior and thereby provides a way for researchers to
understand the meaning of that behavior".
Kvale & Brinkmann claim that the qualitative
research interview "attempts to understand the world from the subject's point of view, to
unfold the meaning of their experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to scientific
Kvale & Brinkmann furthermore mention that the research interview is
based on everyday conversations, and that it is an "inter-view where knowledge is
constructed in the inter-action between the interviewer and the interviewee". This
corresponds to the interpretive worldview as described above. Finally, Kvale &
Brinkmann describe interviewing as an "(...) active process, where interviewer and
interviewee through their relationship produce knowledge. Interview knowledge is

W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 44
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 166
Seidman: Interviewing As Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social
Sciences p. 10
Kvale & Brinkmann: : Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing p. 1
produced in a conversational relation; it is contextual, linguistic, narrative and

Two different kinds of interviews were employed for this thesis. Firstly, an
'unstructured' interview was made with the co-founder of Wild Peeta, Mohammed Al
Awadhi. Daymon & Holloway indicate that unstructured interviews (with no
predetermined questions) "generate the richest data and often uncover surprising
The interview provided valuable information and insight into the company
and its social media strategy. The personal interview was conducted in Dubai, United
Arab Emirates on Dec. 28 2010 and a transcript of the entire interview can be found in the
Additionally, two semi-structured interviews were carried out with selected
salient stakeholders in January 2012. These two interviewees are loyal customers as well
as organizers/members of community groups (TwitBookClub and BakeFestDXB) that are
closely linked to Wild Peeta and its wider community. These interviews are also
transcribed and included in the appendix.
Semi-structured interviews contain interview guides with particular topics to be
covered or focused upon, and according to Daymon & Holloway this ensures that similar
types of data will be collected from all informants.
The questions that were asked in
these two interviews were therefore quite similar and highlighted key areas of the case
study, e.g.: "Can you tell me about your background and how you got involved in the
Wild Peeta community?", "how would you describe the Wild Peeta community", "why do
you think Wild Peeta are so keen on getting involved with the community?", "why do they
offer the 'Open Space' [restaurant] to these events as a venue?", "does this make the whole
conversation or engagement more 'real' to you as a customer?" etc.
Daymon & Holloway mention three types of questions that typically are used
in interviews: Experience, feeling and knowledge questions.
Most of the questions used
in all three interviews are experience and knowledge questions: "Tell me how you got
involved in the Wild Peeta community", but they are also related to feeling, as for instance
"does this make the whole conversation or engagement more 'real' to you as a customer?".

Kvale & Brinkmann: : Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing p. 17
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 170
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 171
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 173
The aim of the interviews was to explore the level of identification and if there was a
sense of belonging connected to being a Wild Peeta customer and active member of the
wider community (since the interviewees were key members and organizers of The
Twitter Bookclub and the BakeFest community).
The research interviews were structured and carried out as everyday
conversations (as described by Kvale above) and the questions followed the
recommendations of Daymon & Holloway without any academic jargon or technical
terms. These recommendations ensure that the researcher has an equal footing with the
informants, and by using the same language as the participants, more interesting and
relevant responses will be produced
All three interviews were recorded via an iPhone by using the native 'Memo'
app. Later they were transcribed as recommended by Daymon & Holloway, since
transcribing interviews provides the 'fullest and richest' data.
However, radio interviews
and video clips that are available online were only partially transcribed and are therefore
not included in the appendix. The reason for this is that the author found that not all
questions were relevant for the study.

Ghauri & Grnhaug point out that secondary data are useful not only to find
information that solves the research problem, but secondary data can also explain the
research problem. Ghauri & Grnhaug also recommend that researchers look for
secondary data before collecting his/her own data. Nevertheless, they also stress that the
researcher needs to evaluate the reliability of the information gathered from secondary

As suggested by Daymon & Holloway, secondary data documents which have
been produced by other people can be a rich source of supplementary evidence in
qualitative research. Documents include "words and images that have been recorded
without the intervention of a researcher. They are in written, printed, sound, visual and
digital forms".
Daymon & Holloway also claim that in many cases, such data provide a
more comprehensive evidence than information acquired from interviews. Therefore,

Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 175
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 179
Ghauri & Grnhaug; Research Methods in Business Studies - A Practical Guide p. 91-92
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 216
secondary sources of data have been used in this thesis as an addition to the interviews.
According to Daymon & Holloway, this is a way to counteract some of the possible biases
and allows the researcher to question and cross-check data obtained from the interviews.

One pitfall of interviews in business research is the so-called "interviewer
effect" which means that there might be a gap between what informants say they do (in
interviews) and what they actually do (in reality). To avoid such discrepancies, Daymon &
Holloway suggest that the findings from interviews are monitored and that the researcher
spends time with participants in order to develop trust
Therefore the researcher also attended several events connected to Wild Peeta
in attempt to develop a holistic understanding of the company and the wider community
surrounding it in Dubai. Several visits were made to the restaurant and its different outlets
(Healthcare City, Deira City Centre Food Court) in order to conduct interviews and make
observations. The researcher also attended and participated in a few community events
that were held in the Wild Peeta Open Space: A book reading/recital of Afghan women's
literature arranged by the Twitter Book Club in January 2012, and a comedy contest
arranged by Dubomedy was attended in February 2012. Additionally, the author took part
in a "TweetUp", an informal meeting for Wild Peeta's Twitter followers that was hosted
by Wild Peeta Open Space. Here contacts were made with key members of the community
and the informants for the interviews were recruited at this stage. Neuman describes
"informants" for this kind of field research as:

a member with whom a field researcher develops a relationship and who tells
about, or informs on, the field". (...) The person who is totally familiar with the
culture and is in position to witness significant events makes a good informant.
He or she lives and breathes the culture and engages in routines in the setting
without thinking about them. The individual is not a novice but has years of
intimate experience in the culture.

Both interviewees, Nick and Anastacia, meet the requirements of being good informants
and were therefore selected for interviews. Since they both are frequent customers as well
as key members of the Wild Peeta community, no further interviews were made with other
customers at Wild Peeta. The reason for not choosing regular and "random" customers for

Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 218
Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 185
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 454
interviews was that the primary focus of this study is on the community engagement, and
therefore it was important to locate salient stakeholders from the community to gather
specific information related to this.
The researcher was also invited to attend "An Evening With Wild Peeta" at the
Capital Club
in Dubai in February 2012. At this event, local potential investors and key
members of the business community and selected media were able to learn about the story
behind Wild Peeta as well as some of their recent ventures (Peeta Planet, Social TV). This
event gave the researcher the opportunity to witness how Wild Peeta presents themselves
and more importantly, how the public perceives the company. The presentation was
recorded and used as a source of information.
Additionally, a live radio interview broadcast on Dubai Eye in February 2012
was also recorded and used as a source of information. The topic for the interview was
Twitter and featured Wild Peeta, a local PR agency and prominent Twitter users from the
In addition to the interviews, news articles, online data (e.g. YouTube videos),
books and journal articles were used for secondary data. The corporate websites for Wild
Peeta and 'Building a Wild Peeta'
were also used as rich sources of information.

One way of improving accuracy in social research is by using the process of triangulation.
Neuman characterizes triangulation as a principle where "we learn more by observing
from multiple perspectives than by looking from only a single perspective", and he defines
triangulation as "the idea that looking at something from multiple points of view improves

In this thesis, the author attempted to triangulate findings and data by using
both primary and secondary sources of data. This method of data triangulation is also
evident in the way data were collected from different groups and contexts (TwitBookClub
and BakeFestDXB), and from entering Wild Peeta on different occasions and in different
contexts. The social media findings from BakeFestDXB were double checked with the
organizer of the event, face to face, as a way of triangulating the data already found on

Dubai Capital Club is Dubai's premier private business club located in Dubai International Financial
centre. It is designed to meet the demands of decision-makers from the highest echelons of business, finance
and government:
The main websites are currently under construction and do not represent original data sources for this
W. Lawrence Neuman: Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches p. 164
social media. Furthermore, data from interviews and websites were compared with
information from public speeches, radio interviews and the presentation held at The
Capital Club in order to check information from different angles. It is noted by Daymon &
Holloway that this strategy of triangulating data using multiple sources of information
"provides a more 'complete' picture" of what the researchers have seen.
The author
attempted to include as many perspectives to ensure accuracy in the findings.

2.5 Delimitation

This thesis is based on external communication material as it has been made available
through websites and various news media. Three qualitative interviews were carried out in
order to obtain more information about Wild Peeta as a company and about its role in the
community. Needless to say, having additional data from several interviews might have
added further value to the thesis, but the secondary data have offered many insights to the
case study already. Due to the scope of this thesis, the analysis will focus on the business
perspective of using social media and what engaging with stakeholders means for an
entrepreneur in a small business like Wild Peeta. Although Wild Peeta also have been
active on several social media sites, e.g. MySpace and Facebook, the main focus for this
study will be limited to the use of Twitter and a single blog on their Posterous website.
The main website will be used as a point of reference, but it will not be analyzed in detail.
The aim of the thesis is to analyze the overarching social media framework that
Wild Peeta employs and to evaluate their social media strategy as a viable way of
expanding their brand. Therefore the focus lies on analyzing Wild Peeta and their
communication strategy in a wider societal context, at macro level, as opposed to a
detailed micro analysis of individual tweets or other kinds of communication between the
company and its customers.

Daymon & Holloway: Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
p. 98
3. Company background

Wild Peeta was founded as a joint venture in October 2009 by the two Emirati brothers,
Mohamed Al Awadhi and Peyham Al Awadhi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The fast
food restaurant is specializing making and selling their 'Fusion Shawarmas', salads, fresh
juices, hot beverages like 'Karakccino', a local tea adapted to global palates (karak is the
Emirati version of strong tea). The shawarma sandwiches can be customized according to
the preferences of each customer in terms of bread, meat, salads and sauces. Unlike other
regular shawarma bars in Dubai, Wild Peeta offers a variety of sauces for the shawarma:
Italian, Indian, Khaleeji/Emirati etc. One of their other products is the vegetarian or vegan
shawarma based on Lima beans, and they claim it is the first in the world of its kind.
From the early days of Wild Peeta, they were consciously making an effort to
create the Wild Peeta brand, and the idea from the beginning was to take the brand global.
Therefore the term 'peeta' as their own word for 'pita' has been trademarked, so that only
one name shows up in Google when one enters 'peeta' as a search term. They simply
changed the spelling from the Lebanese bread so they could stand out globally.

The ingredients in the restaurant are fresh, organic, and from local Emirati
farms instead of the usual imported victuals. The shawarma sandwiches are also called
sharewarma 2.0 in accordance with the company strategy and mission: Were the open-
source Shawarma restaurant that shares decision-rights with our followers. Welcome to
SHAREWARMA 2.0;-) as it is written on their Twitter biography.

At the end of 2008 the Al Awadhi brothers created a group on Facebook, and
in early 2009 they moved into other social networks like MySpace and Twitter. Creating
online relationships with their customers and followers using these three platforms
evolved from pure necessity since Wild Peeta did not have a budget for advertising. Since
70% of the company is delivery-oriented, heavy advertising would required, and by virtue
of not having an advertising budget, they turned to social media marketing.
When the restaurant was launched, they had already established a fan base of
2,000 individuals because the two brothers had been sharing their thoughts with their fans
and followers on Twitter and Facebook. They had shared their worries online about
leaving their corporate exec jobs to become entrepreneurs in a risky industry with 17,000
restaurants and food outlets in Dubai and slowly built a lot of relationships and friendships

Wamda presentation: Celebration of Entrepreneurship
41 - !/wildpeeta
with other Twitter and Facebook users. The co-founder, Mohamed Al Awadhi, describes
the whole experience as revolving around Twitter:

(...) it's kind of like a reality show on Twitter, I guess. It started very naively.
We started a Facebook and a Twitter accound about three years back, and a
few tweets about what we were doing, you know, the journey of an SME
[small medium enterprise] and an entrepreneur. And I think people appreciated
that honesty and that transparency and that vulnerability. We had an idea and
we started talking about it on Twitter. And three years later, we have a few
thousand followers, so that's quite interesting.

In addition to that, before the launch of Wild Peeta, word of mouth had already helped
spread the news of a new and healthier fast food restaurant opening in Dubai.
According to Ali, a Middle East tech blogger, startups in the Middle East are
using social media to increase brand awareness, word of mouth and as a consequence also
sales for their outlets.
Enterprises like Wild Peeta do not have access to large marketing
budgets and therefore need to make the most of the little they have. Instead they rely on
their ability to generate buzz in the social media community and spread awareness about
their business in this way. Through social media Wild Peeta have set a high standard for
other startups in the region by using social media to connect with their stakeholders. They
have been using a unique communication strategy on Twitter which, according to Ali,
represents a "sense of individuality as the Twitter feed is not all about what happens at the
restaurant. The founders also tweet about their day to day lives and most of their tweets
actually make interesting reading".

Shortly before the launch, the Wild Peeta asked their Twitter followers what
type of jam they should make for their breakfast shawarmas.
Ever since the beginning of
Wild Peeta, the followers have been involved as decision-makers for the restaurant. Other
decisions being shared with customers and social media followers have concerned the
design of the restaurant, shawarma sauces and new product ideas. Some of their products
have also been named by suggestions from customers, for instance the 'Magic Juice' which
was named by two of Wild Peeta's Twitter followers. Through a special feedback forum
customers can suggest new ideas and vote for other ideas that people have posted

Radio interview with Wild Peeta on Dubai Eye, February 2012
Ali: "Dubai's Wild Peeta: A Restaurant Powered By Social Media"
Ali: "Dubai's Wild Peeta: A Restaurant Powered By Social Media"
Ferguson: Wild Peeta Brothers tweet their way onto gourmet spotlight
Interestingly enough, Wild Peeta does not perceive their restaurant as a fast food
restaurant. Instead they claim that what they sell is "good food, served fast".

Nevertheless, one of their restaurant outlets in Dubai was (up until April 2012) located in
a 'food court' in Deira City Center side by side with multinational fast food outlets like
McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut etc. This outlet did not have its own space and shared tables
and chairs for the customers with other fast food outlets. Therefore this outlet was of a
very different type than the first Wild Peeta restaurant in Dubai.
The only outlet that is currently open in Dubai is the restaurant called Wild
Peeta Open Space located near the Dubai World Trade Centre. The restaurant functions as
an open cultural space that lends itself to the local community and forms a cultural
meeting hub for many activities and events. Most of these community initiatives use Wild
Peeta on a regular basis, for instance Gulf Scrabble Club, The TwitBookClub, The Manga
Club and Dubomedy, a local comedy club. Some of these community initiatives have been
perceived as 'controversial', and without Wild Peeta, the comedy club (Dubomedy) would
not have a venue for their shows today. Wild Peeta Open space also lends its facilities for
concerts, baking festivals, recycling initiatives for old books and computers and even new
product launches that are co-branded with Sony Middle East.
Today, Wild Peeta have more than 9,500 followers and are labeled 'social
media darlings' of the entire Gulf and Middle Eastern region by several digital media
Recently they have also turned to television production based on their social
media model and launched "Peeta Planet", a travel series filmed in the UAE, Japan, Brazil
and other countries. "Peeta Planet" is a reality show driven on social media and it is the
first of its kind in the UAE.

Money-Coutts: A new spin
3.1 Wild Peeta timeline:

2000: The Al Awadhi brothers get the first idea about creating Wild Peeta as a
global shawarma brand
2001: The brand name and website for Wild Peeta is created and the first business
plan is made
2007: The Al Awadhi brothers approach the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment
for Small and Medium Businesses for another business idea. They mention the
concept of Wild Peeta by coincidence and receive a grant from the MBR
Establishment for SMEs.
2008: The Facebook group for Wild Peeta is set up
2009: The social media strategy expands with MySpace and Twitter profiles for
Wild Peeta
October 2009: TEDx Presentation by the two brothers about their business concept
October 2009: Wild Peeta has more than 2,000 followers on Twitter
Late October 2009: Wild Peeta opens the first outlet in Dubai Healthcare City
December 2009: The outlet closes because of a flooding damage
March 2010: The restaurant reopens after renovation
November 2010: The second outlet opens in Deira City Centre, a popular mall in
February 2011: Wild Peeta brings in the first round of investors who contribute
with 2,5 mio AED and makes it possible to open a third outlet
March 2011: The third outlet, Wild Peeta Open Space, opens near the World Trade
June 2011: Wild Peeta's brand has an estimated worth of 15 mio AED (=22 mio US
December 2011: The Al Awadhi brothers co-found Qabeela New Media, a media
production company
January 2012: Peeta Planet, the social TV show, launches with trips in the UAE and
April 2012: The second outlet in Deira City Centre closes
May 2012: Wild Peeta has 9,511 followers on Twitter and 1,199 fans on Facebook

3.2 Internet and social media in the United Arab Emirates

The total Internet penetration for 2011 in Denmark was 89%, while the Facebook
penetration reached 51,6% of the population. In the UAE, the rate for Internet penetration
was 69%, while the Facebook penetration was a little higher than in Denmark, namely
The UAE is the leading country in the Middle East regarding Facebook user
penetration with more than two million users in the UAE while 201,000 users had an
Twitter account between January and March 2011.
All in all the total fans and followers
(either on Facebook or on Twitter) of the Top 100 UAE social media brands amount to
990,905 - just short of a million, according to the latest report (March 2011) published on
social media in the UAE. The report also measured the average online spending per year
by UAE consumers to be $ 1,048.
These figures give an indication of the popularity of
social media in the UAE, and the market is still growing at a fast rate (11%).
The data
shown in the report suggests a vast internet marketing potential for the UAE since the
population is already leading in the Middle East when it comes to Facebook, the largest
platform for social media.

3.3 Twitter

Twitter is a social networking service that enables users to send and read messages called
tweets. Twitter updates are limited to 140 characters only, but this has not stopped Twitter
users from developing their own slang and techniques for getting around the short length
of each message. Twitter is provides users with an opportunity to engage in microblogging
and is normally considered the most transparent of the social networks. Unless a Twitter
user has 'protected' tweets, anybody can see tweets sent from the profile page.
Using Twitter is a communication strategy that consequently supports Wild
Peeta's values and focus on increasing transparency between brand and consumers. Wild
Peeta has a Facebook page as well, but it is not updated as frequently as the Twitter page.
Twitter seems to be the preferred communication channel since it enables Wild Peeta to
distribute messages to all their followers at once, and at the same time they can write

individual replies when it is required to their followers, one by one. Twitter as medium is
also more suitable for Wild Peeta since they often post many tweets on a daily basis. On
Facebook companies should be careful not to update or post messages too frequently
unless they want to be perceived as 'spammers' by their fans.

3.4 Posterous is a social platform that enables users to publish content and various
media formats via email. Posterous then updates other social media communities, for
instance Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr or Blogger and so on. Once a user sets up an
account, Posterous autoposts everywhere else to other sites connected to the users
account. The regular tweets are also redirected from a different Posterous page
to both
Wild Peeta platforms on Twitter and Facebook.
The reason for including Posterous in this study is because Wild Peeta set up a
special Posterous page for their Build A Peeta blog
about their new restaurant outlet,
Wild Peeta Open Space, during the time it was built. What is remarkable about this outlet
(located near the Dubai World Trade Center) is that it was built in collaboration with
students from The University of Sharjah, a local university from the neighbor emirate. The page explains the thoughts behind collaborative and open-
sourced ventures like the new outlet, and how other important business elements have
been "open-sourced" in similar ways: "To date, we've open-sourced our menu, furniture,
packaging and our retail strategy", it is stated on this website.
The page on Posterous is an example of collaboration in itself since all the
people involved in the building project could contribute with content and inspirational
blog posts: "#BuildAPeeta is a collaboration between the University Students, our
followers and Wild Peeta to open-source the design of our outlet. These posts are by the
amazing people involved. Enjoy reading them!:-)". The blog features drafts of interior
design created by students, and the other students as well as Wild Peeta and their
customers could add comments or suggest new ideas for improving the restaurant design.


The aim of the literature review for this thesis is to establish the theoretical framework in
order to analyze the Wild Peeta case. Tribal, engagement and participation marketing are
closely linked to (and have emerged from) a new era and paradigm within marketing
communication. Thus, the most important concepts for new marketing will be described in
the following sections.

4.1 Postmodern marketing

Christensen et al. describe postmodernity as:

a social condition of profound doubt in the grand project of modernity - the
project of progress, development and emancipation. Against the modern belief
a universal science based on reason and objective information as the
foundation of this project, postmodern writers contend that this foundation is
shaking and that the project, as a consequence, has lost its directive force.

In the age of postmodernity, traditional market segmentation is therefore considered out of
date because consumers and their reality/realities have changed. Cova characterize
postmodernity as an era of transition that has recognized that "the goals set by modernity
will never be reached" (...) and it is characterized by a plethora of trends and styles, as
well as by a juxtaposition of conflicting features".

According to Brown, the postmodern conditions and their main themes are
hyperreality, fragmentation, reversal of production and consumption, decentred subjects,
and a juxtaposition of opposites characterize. Brown also points out that there is no single
definition of what postmodern marketing is, but it should be seen as a critique instead of a
fixed concept: "It does not provide an alternative to existing marketing concepts. It simply
informs us that there is something wrong with established ideas and understandings".

Cova mentions that postmodernism is seen as the era of individualism where
the individual can demonstrate his individual existence and differentiation. Society is
characterized as being fragmented and people can shop from their homes without having
to interact with others, physically or socially. At the same time, the postmodern consumer

Christensen et. al.: "Integrated marketing communication and postmodernity: an odd couple?" p. 157
Cova: "What Postmodernism Means to Marketing Managers" p. 495
Brown: "Recycling Postmodern Marketing" p. 212
is fluctuating in a paradox between being both isolated and in virtual contact with the rest
of the world electronically.

4.2 Tribalism and tribal marketing

Cova also states that postmodern philosophy sees the emergence of a desperate search for
social links. Rather than being a collection of social groups like defined by socio-
professional classes, postmodern society is a network of 'microgroups' where individuals
share links, a common subculture and a vision of life. As mentioned by Cova in the above,
postmodernism means social disintegration and extreme individualism, but these
individuals are also searching for social links and what he calls "social recomposition".
The social dynamics of postmodern society point towards tribalism because individuals
seek towards recreating their social universes through free choice. Cova claims that
tribalism means that quasi-archaic values have reemerged, such as local identity, religious
feeling and syncretism and group self-awareness. Tribes are reviving or imitating the
community archetype of the village, but it can also be virtual tribes existing online, for
instance. These postmodern communities are based on the symbolism and ritual of their
members, and "each postmodern individual can belong to several tribes in which he/she
plays a different role and wears a different mask. Modern tools of sociological analysis
cannot classify him/her. It is more important for the individual to belong to a tribe than a
modern social class or segment".

Cova later on (1999) elaborates on the concept of tribe and claims that tribes
are "not definable in spatial terms, [they] are inherently unstable, small-scale, affectual
and not fixed by any of the established parameters of modern society; instead they can be
maintained through shared emotions, styles of life, new moral beliefs, senses of injustice -
and consumption practices".

As a consequence of the individualistic stance in postmodern society, some
marketing techniques try to cater to individual consumers through individual one-to-one
marketing. However, as mentioned by Cova, the opposite view of marketing also exists.
According to this view "postmodern individuals value those products and services which
encourage social interaction in communities. (...) Therefore, postmodern individuals will

Cova: "What Postmodernism Means to Marketing Managers" p. 495
Cova: "From marketing to societing" p. 67
prefer products and services of value as community-linking agents to those with mere
value in use. Therefore, marketing should be 'tribal marketing', designed to sell products
and services which increase tribal cohesion".

4.3 Consequence: New marketing

The societal changes and the consequences of postmodernity have created a paradigm
shift within marketing. As suggested by Hougaard & Bjerre, traditional marketing can be
described as "the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion
and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchange and satisfy individual and
organizational goals".
They also claim that new marketing takes a different stance:
"Marketing means to establish, maintain and enhance relationships with customers in a
profitable way in order to accomplish the objectives of both parties through the reciprocal
interchange and keeping of promises".
The new marketing definition as suggested here
involves another approach to the relation between the two exchanging parties. Maintaining
and enhancing relationships involves more commitment than previously, and the focus on
'keeping promises' further illustrates a shift in the buyer-seller relation.
The marketing perspective has therefore evolved from focusing on transaction
to focusing on relationship, and it has been suggested (for instance by Grnroos) that the
relationship approach to marketing symbolizes a paradigm shift in marketing. The
underlying belief is that the existence of a relationship between two parties creates extra
value for the customer, supplier or service provider - on top of the value of products and
services being exchanged.
Therefore, the new value of exchange is overshadowed by the
value of relationship. In the following paragraph, relationship marketing will be explained

Cova: "What Postmodernism Means to Marketing Managers" p. 496
Hougaard & Bjerre: "Understanding Buyer-Seller Relationships" p. 30
Op.cit. p. 30
Grnroos: "The relationship marketing process: communication, interaction, dialogue, value" p. 99
4.4 Relationship marketing

Hougaard & Bjerre define relationship marketing as "the art of building and maintaining
profitable relationships, turning prospects into customers and customers into friends".

Moreover, Hougaard & Bjerre point out that these relationships are more important than a
company's market share. Relationship marketing occurs when a company behaves "with
the purpose of establishing, maintaining and developing competitive and profitable
customer relationships to the benefit of both parties".

In the new marketing paradigm, good relationships between companies and
customers can lead to favorable word-of-mouth (also known as word-of-mouse in the
Internet age) and eventually lead to new relationships with potential customers. Word of
mouth (WOM) has always been one of the most effective ways of marketing products.
Consumers have continuously been trusting opinions and suggestions made by their
friends or peers. It is simply a more persuasive strategy because information from personal
sources is perceived as more reliable than information from regular marketing and
Grnroos argues that ongoing relationships "may offer the customer security, a
feeling of control and a sense of trust, minimized purchasing risks, and [...] reduced costs
of being a customer".
Additionally, Grnroos claims that relationship marketing is a
process, and that all activities used in marketing have to be steered towards managing this
process. The process is sequential and moves from "identifying potential customers to
establishing a relationship with them, and then to maintaining the relationship (...) and to
enhance it so that more business as well as good references and favorable word of mouth
are generated".

Finally Grnroos points out that in order for relationship marketing to succeed,
an integrated management of marketing communications is needed, which leads us to
some definitions of IMC in the following paragraph.

Hougaard & Bjerre: "Understanding Buyer-Seller Relationships", p. 27
Hougaard & Bjerre: "Understanding Buyer-Seller Relationships", p. 40
Grnroos: "The relationship marketing process: communication, interaction, dialogue, value" p. 99
Grnroos: "The relationship marketing process: communication, interaction, dialogue, value" p. 101
4.5 Integrated marketing communication (IMC)

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) coined the original
definition of IMC in 1989:

A concept of marketing communication planning that recognizes the added
value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of
communication disciplines - for example, general advertising, direct response,
, and PR - and combines them to provide clarity, consistency and maximum
communication impact through the seamless integration discrete messages.

As Christensen et al. point out, the first definition of IMC concentrates on the advantages
of combining different media channels to achieve synergy through 'one voice' and 'one
sound', but ignores the receiving end of the communication process. Consequently,
Kliatchko redefined the IMC concept in 2008: "IMC is an audience-driven business
process of strategically managing stakeholders, content, channels, and results of brand
communication programs".

The IMC approach generates a shift from the 4Ps of the traditional marketing
mix (product, price, place, promotion) to the 4Cs of consumer, consumer costs,
convenience and communication. Kliatchko's new definition is guided by a four pillars:
Stakeholders, Content, Channels and Results as foundation for the strategic management
of brand communications programs. The connection to relationship marketing as
described above is also clear as mentioned by Kliatchko: "Building and developing [long-
term] and positive relationships, not only with the firm's external markets but also with its
internal audience, is paramount, as it fosters in them a sense of loyalty and business
The aim is to deepen the customers' relationships with the brand in order to
create reciprocal value for them and the company in the long term.
Kliatchko also mentions that the 'participatory media' (social media) has
revolutionized the traditional paradigm of content creation. Audiences are now enabled to
be both creators and receivers of content simultaneously through community blogs, vlogs,
podcasts and other forms of new and digitalized media. While Kliatchko seems to
embrace the new possibilities for conversation among user communities, he also notes that

Christensen et al.: "Integrated marketing communication and postmodernity: an odd couple?" p. 160
Kliatchko: "Revisiting the IMC construct" p. 140
Op. cit. p. 146
IMC managers will have to be aware of keeping these media channels consistent and
aligned with the brand vision and strategy.

4.6 IMC and social media

IMC seems to embrace the new concepts of social and participatory media. Mangold &
Faulds (2009) suggest that social media can be seen as a hybrid element of the promotion
mix. As opposed to traditional marketing communication channels, social media "enables
companies to talk to their customers, and second, it enables customers to talk to one
another". Mangold & Faulds also claim that enabling channels for customer-to-customer
communication extends the traditional word-of-mouth communication.

Weber argues that marketers must form communities in order to reach and
influence groups of people who share similar interests, concerns, or behaviors. If
marketers or companies succeed in doing so, they can achieve a number of typical
marketing objectives by establishing communities with their stakeholders online, and

Attract new customers
Improve customer retention
Improve channel relationships
Build market share
Build brand awareness
Induce product trial
Boost sales revenue from specific goods and services
Improve marketing return on investment
Build awareness of and involvement in charitable or civic activities
Increase awareness of specific issues (energy conservation, environmental
protection, and the like)

All the above mentioned marketing approaches seem to focus on connectivity, community
and generating word-of-mouth and new ways of communicating with and between

Mangold & Faulds: "Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix" p. 359
Weber: Marketing to the Social Web, p. 115
4.7 Engagement marketing

Today, as noted by Groom, we are living in an engaged reality where interactivity is the
key word to describe the marketplace
. The social networks, smartphones and latest
gadgets all contribute to an interactive way of living where people and businesses are
connecting with each other at a rate that has not been seen before. For marketing, this has
changed everything to an increased focus on conversation with implications for marketers.
Groom also mentions that this requires a new and challenging 'outside-in-approach' that
can adapt to the constant changes of the global marketplace. The fact that people in this
day and age are consumers of symbols instead of buying products mean that marketing
plans expire fast and cannot keep up with the media and symbol bombardment. As a
result, the "only marketing strategy that will work today is one that is designed to
encourage and incorporate change as the product evolves".
Groom maintains that the
'age of engage' is a new era characterized by people "engaging and being engaged in more
participative, collaborative, user-generated, sharing, social, global, open, interactive
generation" ways. Needless to say, using social media provides a platform for all these
The metaphor of engagement is seen as a new and responsive approach by
Groom: "Engagement also reinforces the need for a shift in marketing toward meeting
individuals on their own terms as well as in terms of how they live in relation to their
respective communities, both social and historical".

Nussey (2009) states that a new age of marketing has arrived and consumers
are now more informed than ever and ready to "take brands into their own hands, seeking
out relationships - knowledge-based, product-based and community-based - with the
companies they choose to do business with".
He also points out that engagement
marketing is collaborative marketing where marketers are required to listen and engage in
a two-way dialogue. The reason for this is to create beneficial relationships as described

Groom: Integrated Marketing Communication Anticipating The 'Age Of Engage' p. 3
Shiffman, 2008, as quoted in Groom: Integrated Marketing Communication Anticipating The 'Age Of
Engage p. 3
Penaloza & Venkatesh as quoted in Groom: Integrated Marketing Communication Anticipating The 'Age
Of Engage' p. 7
Nussey: "The rules of engagement marketing".
4.8 Participation marketing

Participation marketing consists of the following five principles according to Rosenspan

1. You really know your customers. This means that you should keep a database and track
the customer's preferences. Rosenspan mentions that if you don't know your customer,
you should ask them about their likes and dislikes. Other ways of gaining information is
through consumer research, salespeople, enquiries, and customers' complaints.

2. You generate feedback at every opportunity. The goal here is to use every interaction
with a customer as a new opportunity to learn. In this way, every sale or experience with
customers can increase knowledge of how customers perceive you, but also of what you
know about the customer. This also shows concern for the customer.

3. You involve customers and prospects as much as possible. Both existing and potential
customers should be involved to participate in marketing communication activities such as
public relations and charity events. Interaction is the key to participation marketing.

4. You market on their schedule - not yours. Promotion activities should be based on the
customers' schedules and be customer-focused, not company- or product-focused.

5. You make them feel vested in your success. Participation marketing means that you let
your customers know your reason for doing things, your future plans, and perhaps even
your profitability.

Other marketers, for instance Wegert, claim that participation marketing is foremost about
engagement and customization.
This implies that the communication campaign can be
customized according to specific needs and strategic goals, but that it also requires
engagement as a brand to fulfill these goals.

Adapted from Rosenspan (2001): Participation marketing p. 54-57
Wegert (2008): "Participation Marketing - Playing Your Part
5. Case analysis

Based on findings and observations from the author's research, the following section of the
thesis will demonstrate that Wild Peeta employs a range of different elements from both
tribal, engagement and participation marketing. The aim of the analysis is to analyze data
and identify the various elements of these types of marketing since some of the features
overlap and can occur at the same time, as in the case of Wild Peeta. Additionally, the
analysis will also employ Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, from a Middle Eastern
perspective, as another framework for analysis. The researcher found that the emerging
data from the field research also pointed into the direction of "Middle Eastern" CSR as an
analytical tool for the case.

According to Wild Peeta, "Social Media Participation Marketing" plays a pivotal role in
the company's business and communication strategy:

We have grown to become one of the pioneers in Social Media Participation
Marketing and certainly one of the first restaurants in the world to do so. (...)
Our regional and global expansion strategy will be to target countries with the
highest population of social media users in the world. Once we assimilate with
followers in these countries, Wild Peeta will "trend" by default and will be
known everywhere.

Wild Peeta has implemented all of the five principles from participation marketing
mentioned above, and as they mention here, they have been pioneers in the way they have
implemented social media in their communication strategy. They have been able to
generate a lot of buzz and media coverage without having a marketing budget:

As a small business, we didnt have the luxury of a huge budget that would have
afforded us to get magazine ads, and newspaper ads, and TV and radio. But the
funny thing is that through social media, we were present in all of those. We were
featured on the BBC, we were in the Financial Times, we were on an American
sitcom/cooking show. Its one of the top travel food series on The Travel Channel.
So Social Media afforded us so much more than any money that we had. If you were
to quantify that, value that, we are talking millions of dollars. So I think as a small
its all about survival as well , how can we make the most of the little that we have,
and thats how we use social media.

Private email correspondence between the author, Wild Peeta and The American University in Cairo
"An Evening With Wild Peeta", Capital Club, Dubai
As mentioned in the company background, even before the restaurant
launched, the Twitter followers were involved in important decision making processes.
This means that principle number 1, "You really know your customer", was employed. For
instance, Wild Peeta asked their followers about menu items and suggestions, such as
"what kind of breakfast jam they would prefer in the menu". They actively used these
conversations to find out what would work in the restaurant, but sometimes it would be 'by
trial and error'.
However, Mohamed Al Awadhi mentions in the first interview that this
interaction with customers is crucial:

"But I think that just that that... interaction with people who choose to buy your
products, that is the most important thing that you need to do. So after we left
the multinational companies, we decided that we learned a lot, but we also
to do what we believe. As a small business you don't have a huge budget. So
you cannot afford agencies, you cannot afford movies or magazine ads or
newspapers, radio, TV, any of that. Luckily we like to be tech savvy and we
said "Let's just open up a Facebook group and see how that works".

They have continuously been trying to get as much feedback as possible from their
customers using social media to communicate and get to know more about their followers
(both current and potential customers).
The second principle has also been implemented: "You generate feedback at
every opportunity". Mohamed Al Awadhi also mentions this in the research interview
"(...) people are hesitant to actually give you feedback, so what we do is this: 1) We ask
And we push the boundary and we say "How can we make it better?" And then people go
"Oh, okay... Now I don't feel so self-conscious, now I'll tell you". And then when people
give us criticism, we get back to them".
Furthermore, Nick, the informant in the research
interview, also mentions this valuable feedback:

Whenever there's an issue, for example like the one we had with the
sandwiches or with the tea, if there is a problem, we just message them and
immediately respond back. Because they know that they are not on Twitter
just to make friends, they are on Twitter to respect their brand, to promote and
get feedback from the community. Everything they have got so far has been
driven by the community feedback

As mentioned in the author's interview with Mohammed Al Awadhi, co-founder of Wild Peeta
Sometimes Wild Peeta will ask the customer about their meal if the customer has tweeted about a visit to
the restaurant.
As mentioned in the author's interview with Mohammed Al Awadhi, co-founder of Wild Peeta
As mentioned in the author's interview with Nick
The questions to and from Wild Peeta are both asked online and offline, and one of the
tools that Wild Peeta use for feedback is their live Twitter Wall in the Wild Peeta Open
Space restaurant. By setting up a Twitter Wall which displays the latest tweets and
dialogues between the brand and among the followers, the relationship to their followers
and the community is given a crucial role. The Twitter Wall takes up an entire wall in the
restaurant and keeps scrolling as new tweets mentioning the brand, restaurant or food is
mentioned. The projector showcases any live tweet mentioning Wild Peeta or any other
active community project hosted by the restaurant. This kind of communication connects
the visitors who are offline (or perhaps even online while having their meal) with the
online followers sitting at home. Mohamed Al Awadhi also explained the rationale behind
the Twitter Wall in a radio interview:

We have a live Twitter feed projected on our wall in Wild Peeta. So if anybody
has a great experience, it's projected on our wall. What happens is that if
anybody has a negative experience, they tweet it, and it ends up on our wall
all our customers see it, and all our staff see it. But the cool thing is that our
staff reacts to that positively and contacts that person and, you know, ask "what
did we do wrong, how can we fix things?". So we use that as a feedback

The Twitter Wall also represents an expanded version of the already existing 'Thought
Wall' in the restaurant (which is also shown on Wild Peeta's Twitter profile). The wall is
simply a ceiling to floor window equipped with colorful gel markers close to the wall.
Originally, the Thought Wall at Wild Peeta was a request from the followers who wanted
a place they could leave personal messages for each other. Since then, the followers used
the Thought Wall to communicate with each other, but also with Wild Peeta by writing
messages on the Thought Wall. Often they would leave their Twitter 'handles' so they
could be contacted later online. The window became a place for sharing, and has since
been developed into the live Twitter Wall.
The overall motive for the Twitter Wall is transparency: "Many brands today
are disconnected with their customers, and Wild Peeta is aiming to change that. By having
a live Twitter Wall we get immediate feedback on customer service in the outlet. Bad

Radio interview on Dubai Eye, February 2012
service festers when it is not exposed to the public. Twitter is empowering customers to
share these experiences".

Transparency is an important value if you want your company to have a strong
reputation in today's competitive environment. This has been suggested by Fombrun, who
also point out how organizations with strong reputations are characterized by high levels
of visibility, distinctiveness, authenticity, transparency and consistency in their corporate
. Fombrun defines corporate reputation as the net perceptions of a
companys ability to meet the expectation of all its stakeholders (Fombrun, 1996)

The third principle of participation marketing: "You involve customers and
prospects as much as possible" is implemented to an extreme extent at Wild Peeta. As
already discussed, Wild Peeta's followers have been involved even before the restaurant
was open. This topic is also mentioned in the radio interview by Alexander McNabb, a
local PR expert:

One of the interesting things about the Peeta boys was that when they went
through this, they sent out to Twitter, and they asked people things like "what
color chairs should we have, should we do paper menus, what about the walls,
do you like this color?". So what happened very quickly was people on Twitter
felt quite strongly that they had an ownership for Wild Peeta, and that they had
a sort of participation it it. And when they actually launched, the launch was

The extreme approach to involving stakeholders (and followers) was also found in the
way Wild Peeta asked a group of students from a local university to design the interior for
Wild Peeta Open Space. There are also numerous examples of how Wild Peeta have
shared their decision rights with their followers. In fact, Wild Peeta often refers to their
social media followers as "their virtual board members", or "invisible advisors", as it is the
case in the research interview:

We have access to thousands and thousands of experts in every field you can
imagine. From scientists and professors, teachers, students, and people in the
food industry and bankers and just... you name it! And these people are our
'invisible advisors'. And they advise us every day on every aspect of our
business. And we take that on board and we change for the better.

Public tweet sent to the author via Twitter. The acquisition of the Twitter Wall was announced on in Wild
Peeta's Twitter feed, and therefore the researcher sent a question about the reason for this.
Cornelissen: Corporate Communication. A guide to theory and practice p. 82
Quoted in Formbrun & Gardberg: Whos Tops in Corporate Reputation p. 13
As mentioned in the author's interview with Mohammed Al Awadhi, co-founder of Wild Peeta
The third principle of involvement also refers to including customers in PR and charity
efforts. Many charity and PR events have been hosted by Wild Peeta in collaboration with
local community initiatives and charity events since they opened their first restaurant.
Some of these initiatives will be described later. Since Wild Peeta is closely linked to
other community groups on Twitter, it is easy to communicate and promote these for the
followers. In this way, the customers and followers of Wild Peeta automatically received
invitations via social networks to support local events which are sometimes hosted other
places. This kind of participation is one of the main pillars of Wild Peeta: They encourage
participation and engage actively in local events in the community. Needless to say, this
kind of sponsorship (e.g. hosting events) also creates new customers. The annual baking
festival for the community, #BakeFestDXB, is an excellent example of such co-hosting
activities that help promoting brand awareness and new customers, especially considering
the 'word of mouth' effect on Twitter after the event. BakeFestDXB will be analyzed later
on as an example of the 'word of mouth' effect for Wild Peeta.
The fourth principle of participation marketing is also followed by Wild Peeta.
The community groups are actually scheduled into the restaurant's event calendar on a
regular, monthly basis. For instance, the TwitBookClub has a meeting every third
Saturday afternoon in Wild Peeta's open space. So it is fair to say that the approach is
extremely customer and stakeholder-focused here. Sometimes the restaurant seems 'closed'
for potential customers if it is fully 'booked' by a community group.
Finally, the last principle of participation marketing, "You make them feel
vested in your success" is also the case for Wild Peeta. Their social media followers are
always included and invited to join events announcing new initiatives, new product
development etc. Before the Al Awadhi brothers left for Japan to make their first Social
TV episode, the Twitter followers were invited to a TweetUp meeting to hear about the
travel plans and the TV show. For the social media followers and customers, it was a new
opportunity to share thoughts and comments about this new venture.

Wild Peeta also uses elements from engagement marketing as described by
Groom. The company's full name is "Wild Peeta - The Evolution of a Shawarma" -
meaning that the company evolves through their followers' engaging with the company.
Therefore, one of the main ideas behind Wild Peeta's communication strategy is that of
engagement marketing, which is a broad term for "engaging" consumers in a two-way
dialogue that generates cooperative interaction. Seen through this perspective, consumers
are no longer looked upon as passive targets for messages and symbol bombardment.
Instead, marketers who advocate engagement marketing believe that consumers need to be
part of the process around creating the brand.
Likewise, Wild Peeta invites its customers to join the 'Sharewarma 2.0'
evolution of the Wild Peeta brand. On numerous occasions (as described earlier) they have
involved their customers and stakeholders in important decisions by 'open-sourcing' them
into a collaborative project supporting the brand development.
In the beginning of 2010 Wild Peeta also open-sourced a radio interview about
their latest Foursquare
campaign to four of their Twitter followers. This meant that four
of their most loyal Twitter followers were invited to speak on a popular morning radio
show on behalf of Wild Peeta. Having customers represent your latest social media
campaign and talking about your brand could have been very risky for Wild Peeta, but the
show was a success and proved that Wild Peeta had established a very useful relationship
with their followers already now that the two founders were booked for presentations
This example illustrates the power of quality followship as pointed out by
Mohamed Al Awadhi in this author's interview, and it also shows that Wild Peeta masters
the "art of building and maintaining profitable relationships, turning prospects into
customers and customers into friends" as previously mentioned under relationship
marketing. In this instance, 'open-sourcing' a conference talk already generates a positive
word-of-mouth simply because it is very unusual to communicate through your customers
in this way. Most companies would probably never even consider this kind of
communication, but it made an impact and showed that they value and trust their social
media followers tremendously. This conference talk is also mentioned on the Posterous
page, so Wild Peeta acknowledge that it might have had a certain impact in generating
word-of-mouth and publicity for the restaurant.

The same website also displays some of the considerations regarding the
involvement of "followers" and quotes a question that was raised to Wild Peeta:

Someone recently asked us: "How do you guys cope with your "followers"
involving themselves in your business every single day?!? It can't be
productive or relevant, as they don't know anything about your business

Foursquare is a location based social network that lets customers 'check in' to venues, for instance
restaurants, shops, public places of interest. Friends can then see where you check in and locate you.
strategies". We have a different view. How can you have a sustainable strategy
if it is solely driving by profit and shareholder-value? And how can your
business be relevant if the people in it are only considered "Units of Measure"
rather than "Human-Relationships"?

The response sums up the essence of Wild Peeta's corporate values. In 2010, the brothers
gave a company presentation where they talked about the background of the company.
Here they described the "four pillars of Wild Peeta" which is the result of their
professional experience working for corporate (and multinational) companies, where "all
the corporate leaders ever talk about is shareholder value". So the brothers looked at a new
set of values, a new value system, and asked themselves "why should it be driven by profit
or the bottom line or shareholder value?". And from these questions, the four pillars of
Wild Peeta emerged:

1. Community: Integrating and participating with the community.Thats what we do
predominantly through Twitter and Facebook, and also through physical meetups
called TweetUps. So participating with our community.
2. Respecting our environment. Everything we produce we keep that in mind. It is not
a CSR program, it is our core value. Everything that we do is driven by that
3. We intend to incorporate Wild Peeta, so obviously shareholder value is important,
but it is a quarter as important as for a typical corporation.
4. Last but not least our food!

It was also stated during this presentation that although the value system is very important
for Wild Peeta, they "do understand that as a business we do need to make money to
sustain. That is one of our strategic priorities. But having said that, we value so much
more than that. We value YOU [points to the audience], we love to hear from you, we
love to understand from you.". This statement also underlines again that the main priority
is to establish a relationship with the followers and customers as suggested in relationship
marketing and participation marketing.
Finally, during this presentation Wild Peeta also told the audience that the
ownership of the brand is also shared with the customers: "This is not our brand, this is
YOUR brand as much as it is our brand". It is also worth mentioning here that Wild Peeta
sometimes refer to themselves as "The People's Republic of Wild Peeta", obviously
referencing the 'collective' properties of the brand in terms of decision-sharing with their
social media followers. Wild Peeta have proved that they are committed to sharing
important decisions about the company on many occasions as mentioned above. The
open-sourced radio conference about Foursquare was also an example of this unique

In Kotler's "Marketing 3.0", he describes how marketing has developed over
the years through three stages: Marketing 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. While Marketing 1.0 was
known as the product-centric era, Marketing 2.0 became more customer-oriented with
segmentation and targeting of the right consumers. Unfortunately, Marketing 2.0
approaches the consumers as passive targets of marketing campaigns, and this is why
Marketing 3.0 is emerging: The values-driven era. From a business perspective, Marketing
3.0 also aims to keep the customer satisfied, but according to Kotler, "companies
practicing Marketing 3.0 have bigger missions, visions, and values to contribute to the
world: they aim to provide solutions to address problems in the society".
maintains that Marketing 3.0 enhances emotional marketing with what he calls human
spirit marketing: Marketing 3.0 companies can provide answers and hope to consumers
who are worried about environmental change and turbulence, and therefore these
companies are able to connect with consumers at a 'higher level'.
When comparing Kotler's ideas here to Wild Peeta's stakeholder engagement, it
is clear that the customers and followers share similar values and that they therefore are
able to contribute and participate in developing them even further. Without sharing similar
values, it would have been impossible for followers to represent the brand on a radio show
on behalf of its founders. Finally, the Wild Peeta community functions as an organic entity
in Dubai where the community subgroups support and promote each other's initiatives.
For instance, the TwitBookClub collaborates with BookShelter about recycling books or
donating for charity. Therefore, the community becomes an active reflection of Wild
Peeta's core values and business ethics.
In a snippet of Wild Peeta's original business plan from 2001 it is also
interesting to see how the main activities from more than a decade ago are still carried out
today. The business plan lists the following strategic decisions in order to increase brand

Kotler: Welcome to Marketing 3.0, p. 4

Misc: PR stunts
Sponsoring local events (music, sports, business, etc.)
Advertisements in yellow pages
Online: Banners
Explore opportunities to promote Wild Peeta on networking sites such as MySpace and
other similar sites. Low financial investment but very personal interaction

The original business plan include the trademark of Wild Peeta's communication strategy:
"very personal interaction". This type of interaction is what has provided Wild Peeta with
a successful online strategy from the beginning. They explain the brand identity and
communication in the following:

For us, we always knew that OUR favorite brands were the ones that possessed
the most human characteristics. So Wild Peeta is basically Peyman and I.
Everything we talk about is real, its our interests, so whether we talk about
nutrition or mixed martial arts, or whether its the music that we Blip, its real
people. Its not a brand book, its not hypothetical, its not theoretical.

According to one of the interviewees, Nick, this is what makes the conversation on
Twitter different than when followers engage with other brands: "Whenever you are
talking to Wild Peeta on Twitter, you are talking to a person and that is one of the brothers
behind the brand. (...) So if you talk to anybody about Wild Peeta, they way they express it
is that they are talking to an individual, living person"(...) in that way it is an organic
brand that lives and breathes through the social media community".
He also says that
Wild Peeta do not promote or advertise as such on Twitter:

99% of their tweets are just them talking to all the people. The other 1% is
saying we have a new secret sauce, or a new recipe where they say come on

Wamda presentation: Celebration of Entrepreneurship
As mentioned in the author's interview with Nick
down and try it, we have got a new Wi-Fi or whatever. They do not put out
random blasts promoting their business. They do not. They just let the
community promote it for themselves, you know?

According to Nick, this is not the case for some of the other big brands, like Dubai Mall:
"They have a social media presence, but you do not feel the connection like you do with
Wild Peeta". As a result, Nick describes the conversation with Wild Peeta as "more real"
than with the other brands. Anastacia, the other interviewee, supports this finding by
saying "they definitely come across as more authentic", and she also mentions that "they
ARE doing the community thing right... Wild Peeta is one of the only, if not THE only
restaurant or organization that 'does' community right here. Especially here in Dubai it's a
bit tricky to find places to do certain events for free".

In the next section, the community surrounding Wild Peeta will be investigated
and described in terms of stakeholders.

5.1 Overview: The Wild Peeta community:


Wild Peeta's main communication channel, Twitter, features a list of the community
initiatives that Wild Peeta are involved in both online and offline. It is a public list made
by Wild Peeta. The idea behind lists like these on Twitter is that other Twitter users can
subscribe to the list and receive tweets by the list members in one feed. In this way, Twitter
users can follow the most important updates in the Wild Peeta community and see if there
are any links between the members. For instance, The TwitBookClub will link their tweets
to Dubai Anime Club if the anime club has activities with Japanese comics or manga. The
Book Shelter also retweets relevant tweets by Sharjah Book Fair, and so on. It is fair to say
that the list is quite an accurate description of the community surrounding Wild Peeta,
although the list might not be conclusive for all activities connected to Wild Peeta. For
instance, one of the events that are not featured on the list is the 'Sony Playstation Iftar' that
took place on August 24, 2011. Iftar is the meal that marks the breaking of the fast during
the holy month of Ramadan. The event was arranged by PlayStation Middle East, but it

As mentioned in the author's interview with Anastacia
took place at Wild Peeta as a co-branding activity. Wild Peeta also organized a three day
gaming event on June 7, 8 and 9 2011 with live-streaming of a Nintendo press conference.
Additionally they have hosted an event for StreetPass Dubai with a release of the popular
Nintendo game, Super Mario 3D Land

Currently there are 17 list members, and in the following section the most important
activities will be described according to their Twitter biographies and websites, if

ThinkUp GCC (7,760 followers) @ThinkUpGCC
"Think Up' is a social hub that will circulate around one main idea, and that is to highlight
the talented generation of our very own GCC [The Gulf Cooperation Council which
features all the member states of the region]. The hub will be there to motivate and enrich
our younger generation via awareness of what other Khaleeji [Arabic word meaning 'from
the Gulf'] are doing for the community. We want to encourage the youth to become active
in their community"

Sharjah International Book Fair (5,049 followers) @ShjIntlBookFair
"For love of the written word 31st edition from 7th-17th November, 2012. ExpoCenter,
Sharjah [a neighboring emirate of Dubai]. Books, authors, activities all for UAE. Come
join us for the party".
Dubomedy (781 followers) @Dubomedy
"Dubai Comedy Community Pioneers! Training, Events, Professional Entertainment.
Urban Arts HUB!"

The Fridge Dubai (1,032 followers) @thefridgedubai
"Dubai based music agency - serving the scene since 2007)

Triplew.Me (680 followers) @triplewme
"We're giving you something different for your day... music, film, arts, entertainment"

Flea 4 Charity (442 followers) @Flea4Charity

The description is quoted from ThinkUp's website:
"One act, many causes". Established in March 2011

The Book Shelter (1,074 followers) @thebookshelter
"The Book Shelter is a free Library, active in supporting education, literacy and making
books accessible to everyone."

Unity Drive (37 followers) @UAE_unityDrive
"A ladies' car parade that goes all over the UAE in memory of our beloved Sheikh Zayed's
[the founder of The United Arab Emirates] journey to unite us."

JamNights Dubai (63 followers) @jamnights
"Organizing acoustic events in Dubai."

Bakefest DXB (268 followers) @BakefestDXB
"The Twitter feed for #BakeFestDXB - an initiative to promote community bakers in

TwingeDXB (347 followers) @TwingeDXB
"Twinge DXB is a community art & culture festival being held in Dubai 10th-16th of
December. Follow us 2 learn about the festival, the artists and the talent."

Social Media Day UAE (739 followers) @SMdayUAE
"Connecting small businesses to the UAE community."

You There, Speak! (284 followers) @YTSpodcast
"A culturally-themed podcast that tackles various subjects ranging from what's going on
around us."
#TwitBookClub (1,273 followers) @TwitBookClub
Book Club re-imagined. We give you choices, you get to pick what you want to read."

Gulf Scrabble (678 followers) @gulfscrabble
"A gateway for Scrabble aficionados in the Gulf to the amazing, insane world of
tournament play."

Dubai Anime Club (336 followers) @dubaianimeclub
"Our main goal is to unite people with interest on Japanese anime, manga and culture
through an online community and regular meetups with relevant activities!"

StreetPass Dubai (254 followers) @StreetPassDubai
"Dubai's StreetPass/Tag Mode Meetup community for Nintendo 3DS & Nintendo DS

A simple addition of all the followers of these community events generates a total of
21,097 followers on Twitter. Since all these community initiatives are supported by Wild
Peeta, either because their events are regularly hosted at Wild Peeta or have been hosted
there in the past, this number of followers should be considered as well when evaluating
the social media marketing strategy. In terms of followers, it is not sufficient to only
mention the 9,500 followers of Wild Peeta alone. By forming close relationships with
community initiatives as for instance ThinkUpGCC, for instance by hosting events and
meetings for this organization, Wild Peeta also generates a buzz on Twitter and perhaps
other social media both before, during and after these events take place. As a result of this,
Wild Peeta have been approached by Sony Middle East for co-branding activities:

Today we have brands like Sony who contact us and ask to co-brand with us. This
is something we never imagined. If you had told us three years ago that our little
shawarma place was going to get contacted by Sony for the launch of their new
PlayStation game, and they were going to pay a high dollar for it, we never would
have expected that.

As another illustration of successful social media marketing, this study later focuses on one
of the BakeFestDXB events that were hosted by Wild Peeta.

5.2 Stakes and stakeholders

During the last three decades, the term stakeholder has become very important for
organizations. Managers have started to acknowledge that their companies depend upon a
range of stakeholder groups instead of just a small group of investors or customers

"An Evening With Wild Peeta", Capital Club, Dubai
. They have also discovered that they need to engage in communication and listen
to number of stakeholders both in order to perform well as a company, but also for society
as a whole. Being proactive when it comes to stakeholders can help avoiding certain
issues that might cause a potential threat or damage to a companys reputation.
But what is actually meant by stake and stakeholders? Having a stake can be
translated to having a share or an interest in something, be it in a company, situation or
system. A stake represents a sum of money or something else of value. Carroll &
Buchholtz suggest that:

A stake is an interest in or a share in an undertaking. (...) The idea of a stake can
range from simply an interest in an undertaking at one extreme to a legal claim of
ownership at the other extreme. In between these two extremes might be a right
to do something. (...) Legal rights might include the right to fair treatment, (...) the
right to privacy (...). A right might also be thought of as a moral right (...)

The term for stakeholders first showed up in the management literature in 1963 when it
was used to describe the stockholders as the only group to whom management needed to
be responsive: Those groups without whose support the organization would cease to
Stakeholders have later on (1984) been redefined by Freeman as "any group or
individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization's purpose
and objectives".

Many other definitions of the stakeholder term have been attempted, but Freeman's
definition is the one that most researchers agree upon. Thus, stakeholders are individuals
or groups who have an interest in the organization and who may want to influence a
companys mission and objectives. For that reason, companies of today need to take the
various stakeholders into account when setting up their missions and objectives. Groups of
stakeholders typically consist of consumers, suppliers, employees, local communities,
governments and shareholders, but they are not limited to these groups alone.
Freeman and Reed distinguish between a narrow and a wide definition of
the stakeholder term. In addition to the above mentioned groups of stakeholders, a wider
and more pluralistic range of stakeholder groups might include groups such as for instance

Joep Cornelissen: Corporate Communication. A guide to theory and practice p. 38
Carroll & Buchholtz: Business and Society: Ethics and Stakeholder Management p. 83
Andrew Friedman & Samantha Miles: Stakeholders - Theory and Practice p. 4
Quoted in Henry: Understanding Strategic Management p. 159
trade unions, NGOs or activists, competitors, the media, the public in general and the
natural environment

In the case of Wild Peeta, it is evident that the company engages with a wide
range of stakeholders in the local community. As a matter of fact, their communication
strategy also reflects their emphasis on community involvement. From their main website,
visitors who click "Participate!" are redirected to another site which features an electronic
bulletin/newspaper based on all the Twitter communities that are linked to Wild Peeta. An
'editor's note' says "It's all about our community! Thanks for following the Wild Peeta
Open Space Community. This publication aims to keep you updated with the growing
number of community events at Wild Peeta Open Space. Power to the community!".
the physical outlet in Wild Peeta Open Space there are also references to the community
initiatives, sometimes with posters and information material placed on the tables. In the
first restaurant, the Thought Wall (as described above) also provided a way of
communicating from customer to customer about other community events, for instance
TwitBookClub meetings. This furthermore fulfils Mangold & Faulds' suggestion about
enabling channels for customer-to-customer communication in order to enhance the word-
of-mouth. Not only does this channel exist via the online community on Twitter, but Wild
Peeta facilitate another channel offline for customers to connect and exchange views.

5.3 Tribal features

Some elements of tribal marketing can be found in Wild Peeta's social media campaigns.
Firstly, it is possible to perceive the Wild Peeta community as a network of microgroups
as suggested by Cova earlier. It is fair to say that Wild Peeta's followers and, in particular,
the ones who are actively involved in community events share similar links, subculture
and visions of life (or at least life in Dubai). Participating in some of these community
initiatives automatically links customers and followers to each other, and these
communities exist both online and offline. Nevertheless, Wild Peeta did not specifically
create the community "tribe" by themselves. Instead, the community seems to have grown

Andrew Friedman & Samantha Miles: Stakeholders - Theory and Practice p. 14
into an organic form that constantly changes. In this author's opinion, the "tribal" elements
have therefore evolved naturally rather than by specific marketing fads or techniques.
Another extremely important aspect when discussing Wild Peeta and "tribes" is
that The United Arab Emirates is still today considered a tribal society with structures and
power relations that are rooted in Beduin tribes from the birth of the federal nation just 39
years ago. So when Wild Peeta also refer to their business, followers, and customers as
Goam Peeta, which means Peeta tribe in the Emirati language, it also serves as a genuine
reference to the original meaning of 'tribe' as in ethnography - not necessarily as a as a
marketing buzzword. Heard-Bey describes how members of a tribal group (because of
their descent) have a "corporate responsibility to provide support and protection" to each
other. Heard-Bey also states that there are tribes and sub-tribes with different alliances in
between these groups of people, according to political or power agendas.

That being said, the Al Awadhi brothers are obviously aware of Seth Godin
and the recent focus on 'tribes' in the marketing aspect of the word. During the brothers'
presentation at TEDxDubai in 2009
, they briefly mentioned the fact that Godin has
trademarked tribe as a concept. To a Middle Eastern audience the notion of a trademarked
'tribe' is quite a paradox since tribes are very present in these societies in their original
meaning. In The United Arab Emirates, a tribe truly a 'social division in a traditional
society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or
blood ties, with a common culture and dialect', as defined in Oxford's dictionary.
However, Wild Peeta may still be inspired by Godin's marketing concept of tribes, namely
"a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an
idea' [...]. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to

The researcher also investigated the key stakeholders from the community,
Nick and Anastacia, if they considered themselves as members of the Wild Peeta "tribe".
According to Anastacia, they "are, definitely [members of the tribe] ... Because it goes
back to the tribe mentality in terms of... if you're treated good by a certain company,
you're inclined to talk about them with your friends, your family, your whatever. (...) She
continues to mention the possible word-of-mouth connected to the tribal concept:

Heard-Bey: "The Tribal Society of the UAE and Its Traditional Economy", p. 98-99
Godin: Tribes: We need you to lead us., p. 1
So the whole tribe thing is sort of - you spread the word around as well - so this
is why they succeed as well. They dont just rely on doing it themselves,
because as a business owner, of course you are going to talk good about your
own business. But if your customers are talking about you, and if theyre
saying a good thing, thats good. If theyre saying a bad thing, obviously its
not so good. But youre there, they are there on Twitter and they can fix it
because they see it.

In this author's opinion, this is also an example of the postmodern juxtaposition of
opposites as mentioned earlier. Wild Peeta both seems to be managing relational one-on-
one communication via Twitter as well as more communal messages and assembly of the
entire 'tribe' via collective tweets to all followers. Thus, Wild Peeta's IMC strategy using
social media to connect and establish relationships with their followers and customers
fulfills the postmodern customers' need for both individualism and affiliation with a tribe
or community (Cova's viewpoint as pointed out above). At the same time, the use of social
media adds value to their business because they get immediate feedback from the

As mentioned in the author's interview with Anastacia

6. CSR from a Middle Eastern perspective

From a Western perspective, many companies today define corporate social responsibility
according to the John Elkingtons concept of triple bottom line, namely people, planet
and profits, also known as the three pillars of CSR.
Currently available models and
frameworks for CSR evaluation and reporting have been developed by Western
organizations and are therefore not sufficient when it comes to businesses in Dubai and the
Middle East.
As noted by Thibos & Gillespie, the emerging markets of the Arab world provide
different contexts, constraints and possibilities both when it comes to CSR activities and
research, and therefore they employ the following definition of CSR in their article: "CSR
is defined as any corporate activity designed to benefit society as a whole or in part that
may or may not directly benefit the corporation itself".

Middle Eastern cultural and religious influences are not easily transferable to
international standards and vice versa. Other issues are at stake for the UAE, for instance
protecting the native minority and their culture, although expatriates constitute the majority
of the population with 90%. In 2006 the Dubai Centre for Corporate Values (DCCV) was
launched by the authorities. The purpose for DCCV is to create a new localized standard
based on the European Foundation for Quality Managements CSR framework. According
to DCCV, giving back to society is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition and a cornerstone of
positive CSR.
These activities are also very evident during the holy month of Ramadan
with numerous community initiatives launched by both citizens, religious groups and many
companies. Along with Ramadan shopping campaigns there are many corporate initiatives
of giving back to the community, laborers, children with autism etc. It is simply an Islamic
duty to help those in need - especially during the month of Ramadan.

In June 2010 the Institute for International Research held its 7th CSR Summit in
Dubai, and the summit vindicated that the regional industries show a strong ideological
support for CSR, but it also showed that CSR in the Middle East and North Africa is in its
early development. According to reports from the summit, MENA economies are largely
producer driven. This means that CSR instruments such as collective bargaining, trade

Joep Cornelissen: Corporate Communication. A guide to theory and practice p. 46
Thibos & Gillespie: "Islamic Marketing" p. 300
Visele: "Culture And Religion Vital To Middle East CSR Model."
Wild Peeta also hosted an iftaar event that was co-branded with Sony and is therefore rooted in Islamic
unions, and lobbyists are not allowed in many Arab states. Essentially this means that
stakeholder engagement becomes a truly foreign concept. Businesses and governments are
therefore responsible for defining CSR for themselves.

However, some CSR principles and traditions may not be so foreign after all. In
2009 a sustainability report noted that many Arabic deep-rooted traditions such as a sense
of personal duty, an obligation to society, and a bond of trust in business are compatible
with the Western concepts and understandings of CSR.
On the other hand, another issue
arises because CSR contributions in the Middle East mainly have been associated with
charity and philanthropy. Arabic traditions regarding charity and philanthropy require that
such activities should be carried out confidentially. In the report it is stated that In fact, to
promote or discuss charitable donations is regarded as vulgar, as individuals are seen to be
capitalizing on this societal obligation for self gain, a large step away from the view of the
As pointed out by Katsioloudes & Brodtkorb, the religious traditions are an
important catalyst for CSR practices in the Arab world. They mention that the practice of
"Zakat", giving out to the poor and those in need, is an "ancestral duty for businessmen"
and a process "deeply ingrained in Islamic values". Therefore it is considered as a
"traditional duty" that large companies contribute with donations to charities.

Another important cultural feature that should be explained is the concept of majlis.
The majlis has played a major role in Arab societies for centuries, and it is also a key
constituent of Emirati civilization. In many other Arabic countries, the word majlis or a
derivation of it, has been used to describe parliaments. In the UAE, the majlis plays a
direct and more personal role in politics and in the community: Members of the royal
family and other leading figures in society hold majlis, giving citizens the chance to come
and discuss matters of importance, to air their views, and to bring comments and
complaints about matters of public life and administration.

The reason for bringing attention to these Middle Eastern notions of CSR and the
impacts of religion as a catalyst for it is that it sheds a new light on the way Wild Peeta
reflect on CSR. It is stated in both the interview and in the before mentioned 'pillars of

Sillanp (2010): Middle East- CSR Valued, But Rarely Reported", p. 6
Op.cit. p. 7
Katsioloudes & Brodtkorb: CSR: An Exploratory Study in the United Arab Emirates, p.11
Benson-Colbi: The Report, Abu Dhabi, p.19
Wild Peeta' that "[what we do] is not CSR". When asked again about the CSR-driven
perspective, Mohammed said:
Well, it's not... you know, I guess you can label it CSR, but it's actually just my
brother and I and what we are interested in, you know, so... We didnt plan
anything, we didnt say we want people who are interested in sports to come to
Wild Peeta. It wasnt like that, we just loved sports ourselves and we just talked
about sports and people talked to us about sports, and we formed a relationship. So
really, it was as simple as keeping it real, keeping it honest, a lot of listening, you
know, what people tell us.

The key finding regarding for the researcher here is that although Wild Peeta do not
categorize their activities as driven by CSR themselves, the activities can be interpreted as
deeply rooted in Arabic traditions as described above. Furthermore, another cultural
element, the majlis, can also be transferred to the Wild Peeta community involvement.
The restaurant is called "Wild Peeta Open Space" and hosts a lot of cultural activities. But
it also gives space to stakeholders like "ThinkUpGCC" who encourage a debate among the
young Emirati citizens. In this way, it is possible to interpret Wild Peeta Open Space as a
contemporary majlis that both caters to the local (native) Emiratis, but also provides a
platform for the many different cultures in the UAE to meet and discuss topics and matters
of importance.
This is yet another way Wild Peeta achieves a competitive advantage, because
no other restaurant or venue deliberately seeks to promote understanding between
cultures. Wild Peeta is popular among the younger generation and the restaurant fills a gap
that is needed between local Emiratis and the majority of expats (80%) in the community,
and according to Alexander McNabb this is also the case for the online community:

One of the important things that Twitter has done in this environment and
community is that it has brought a lot more interaction, it has brought a lot more
social interaction between people. It has also allowed communities like ours here to
understand each other a little better. UAE nationals get a chance to talk to expatriates
and to have a dialogue with them that they otherwise would have never had - and
vice versa. (...)And suddenly you actually did see a sense of a community which had
not really been a part of Dubai in the past.

Wild Peeta also add that " It's so much more rewarding when you engage in the community
and you involve the community in what you're doing" in the same interview, which brings

As mentioned in the author's interview with Mohammed Al Awadhi, co-founder of Wild Peeta
Radio interview 8/2/2012: Dubai Eye, 103.8 FM

us back to the engagement and participation marketing strategies Wild Peeta have used so

7. The strategic value of Wild Peeta's social media marketing

Employing integrated marketing and PR is never really a goal to be achieved in itself, but
building a solid communication strategy is a means to create consumers. According to
management thinker Peter Drucker, the purpose of business is simple:

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.
It is the customer who determines what a business is. (...) Customers are the
foundation of a business and keep it in existence. They alone give
employment. To supply the wants and needs of a customer, society entrusts
wealth-producing resources to the business enterprise.

Drucker's point is that consumers are the reason why businesses exist and that everything
therefore begins and ends with them. Wild Peeta seems to agree with this statement, and
in the Wild Peeta 'mantra' it is stated that the customers always is right and that [the
customers] "They are the reason we exist". In the interview with Mohamed Al Awadhi
(MA) it is also clear that the followers have played an enormous role for Wild Peeta. He
mentions that the most important thing has been honesty between the brand and the
followers, and that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you make up
for it. Wild Peeta aims to 'keep it real' and 'form a real bond' and 'to get to know as many
people personally as well'. During the flooding crisis two months after opening, their
followers literally came to help minimizing the damage in the restaurant - thus connecting
offline and not just online with the brand. According to MA, what matters is the quality of
the 'followship', not the quantity. As soon as they had established trust between the brand
and the followers through daily conversation and feedback, the impact of the followers
started to increase for Wild Peeta: "There are so many people who feel comfortable telling
us about our business, good or bad. Every day! And it's as if we're having a conversation.
They're like: "this was not good, that was great or [...] And that's amazing. You cannot buy
this with all the money in the world".

Drucker: Management: Tasks, responsibilities, practices, p. 57
All this illustrates that Wild Peeta obtains true value from engaging with their
followers, and that this customer insight and collaborative dialogue helps creating a
competitive advantage for Wild Peeta. Firstly, they have established a large fan base on
various social media platforms. Secondly, the close connection and use of engagement and
participation marketing provides useful market insight for Wild Peeta.
At a certain point in time, Wild Peeta actually chose to 'unfollow' people on
Twitter who did not follow them back. The reason for this was to add to the quality of the
conversation they were having and turn it into truly meaningful and engaging
communication. At the same time they told their followers to let them know if they were
not followed 'back' by Wild Peeta so they could correct this if it was the case. By
deliberately 'unfollowing' other Twitter users like this, Wild Peeta made a statement about
what kind of communication they are striving towards. It indicates that it is not just about
reaching a high level of followers, but it is about improving the dialogue. As of today,
Wild Peeta has 9,536 followers and follows 8,803 Twitter users.
Following this logic, for social media brands to succeed, it is not just a matter
of having a large group of followers, but rather on the level of engagement and dialogue
that is taking place through social media platforms. Social media is most successfully
carried out when it is shaped in a two-way dialogue. Kliatcho claims that in the new
marketing, customer retention is more important than acquiring new customers. This
argument can be transferred directly to Wild Peeta's Twitter strategy about enhancing
relationships with current followers and customers instead of focusing on just having a
large number of followers without real engagement.
Other social media success stories within the Food & Beverage category in the
UAE are Burger King (37,042 followers), Just Falafel (10,282 followers), Zaatar W Zeit
(694 followers) and Kitch Cupcakes (700 followers). According to the social media report
as mentioned earlier, Wild Peeta have the largest number of followers on Twitter within
the F&B category, while Burger King leads in terms of Facebook fans (37,036).
Peeta has a higher ranking on than all the other competitors. The Klout
is a popular way of measuring online influence, and the reason behind the high score
(currently 63) is because of the frequent engagement and communication with the
followers of Wild Peeta.

As early as in 2009, Wild Peeta revealed that they had grand expansion plans for their
venture. The plan was to franchise the business, first in the UAE, then in the rest of the
Gulf states, the rest of the Middle East and finally in the rest of the world: "We've already
got offers for franchising from places like Cape Town, Montreal and Bangkok", said
Mohamed Al Awadhi in December 2009
. In October 2010 an article in the leading
national newspaper reported that Wild Peeta were planning to have outlets in Abu Dhabi,
the capital, and in Al Ain, another of the seven emirates in the country, by the first few
months of 2011
. In the same article it was stated that the owners of the restaurant had
been approached by people in Thailand, Fiji, Canada, the United States and India who
wanted to open a Wild Peeta restaurant.
However, so far not much has happened for the franchising and expansion
plans. As a matter of fact, the second outlet recently closed down in Deira City Centre, and
not much information has given to the Twitter community regarding this. A Twitter user
wrote a public message to Wild Peeta about the outlet being closed, and the reply from
Wild Peeta was: "We weren't the right fit for Deira City Centre. We learned a lot there &
are more experienced now. Come see us at World Trade Centre". A few months earlier, the
researcher also witnessed an advice given by Wild Peeta during the presentation at Capital
Club. They advised other entrepreneurs to "stay away from the malls", although it was said
jokingly. Therefore, the closure of the mall outlet did not come as a surprise, and the mall
outlet never had the same potential as the Wild Peeta Open Space or even the original
outlet. As it has been demonstrated in the analysis, Wild Peeta Open Space provides a
unique platform as a venue, and a mall outlet next to KFC can never offer the same 'space'
for customers and followers to meet.
Wild Peeta originally had high expectations in 2010 about opening the outlet in
Deira City Centre:

To be able to be in a food court like at Deira City Centre for a small business is
unbelievable. Its a lifeline. Whereas today our outlet is doing well we are
not losing anything, but we are not really making anything because we are in
the first year. That particular outlet is going to be super. If we can just go by
the number that we hear: KFC does 14 mio AED dirhams a year in Deira City
Centre. If we can have 10% of that, you know, we will be in a fantastic shape.
Its truly a lifeline in terms of numbers.

Wamda presentation: Celebration of Entrepreneurship
Perhaps this early 'warning signal' shows that they need to reconsider this 'learning
experience' when they want to open outlets in other countries. During the same
presentation in 2010 it was announced that Wild Peeta planned to open "a hundred outlets
in five years". But the recent closure of the second outlet indicates that they have problems
competing with fast food outlets in the UAE, so they might face similar difficulties abroad
if they are located next to fast food outlets.
The strategy that Wild Peeta wants to use for the global market has already
been mentioned before: "Our regional and global expansion strategy will be to target
countries with the highest population of social media users in the world. Once we
assimilate with followers in these countries, Wild Peeta will "trend" by default and will be
known everywhere.

Seen in the light of the closure of the second outlet, this strategy might be a
challenge. First of all, the conditions in the UAE have been very unique, and Wild Peeta
has tapped into a community feeling and bridged a gap between many community
initiatives and even different cultures. As mentioned by Anastacia in the interview, Wild
Peeta is engaging in the community in the right way because "they let us run BookClub
meetings here for free without charging us an arm and a leg - because we are a
community". Therefore, Wild Peeta have been providing a 'societing link' as mentioned by
Cova, and the question is if this value for customers can be recreated in other markets in
the same way it has been done in Dubai. In other words, it might be time consuming and
difficult to copy the Wild Peeta method - winning one follower at a time and creating a
'tribe' - in other countries.
The latest initiative from Wild Peeta is the Peeta Planet or Social TV project
that is planned to launch this summer. The project is very creative and pioneering, but it is
not related to the Wild Peeta brand as such. However, Anastacia thinks its an "innovative
idea, and as such, again, it will only do a lot of positive word about them because they
were the first to do this sort of thing. I havent heard of anybody else doing this", she said
in the interview. Nick describes the Social TV project as a "crazy idea", but acknowledges
the positive press coverage the project has generated so far. Nick also believes that the
Social TV project will strengthen brand awareness in the long run:

I think that it will publicize, I mean, when it is broadcast, it will not be saying
that Wild Peeta is going around the world. It will say that two brothers,

Private email correspondence between the author, Wild Peeta and The American University in Cairo
Mohamed and Peyman, are going, and they have a shop called Wild Peeta. So
I think when people start hearing that they will actually make a conscious
effort to see what the heck is Wild Peeta?. I think that will then drive people
to the store and to the website and kind of get people to recognize the brand.
They will say oh, you are the guys that went trekking around Japan or Brazil
or whatever. So I think that will help.

Wild Peeta had assured their followers that they would never directly use the TV show as
an advertising channel for Wild Peeta, but the TV project has already received a lot of
attention in the media, so in the long run it will probably increase brand awareness for the

7.1 Co-creation experiences

Wild Peeta has used collaboration and open-source innovation on several occasions. This
kind of collaboration can generate co-creation experiences for both Wild Peeta and their
customers. According to Prahalad & Ramaswamy, "Co-creating is about joint creation of
value by the company and the consumer. It is not the firm trying to please the
Within this paradigm, the role of the company and the consumer can be
characterized as both being collaborators - creating value - and competitors - extracting
economic value. The market place is here seen as a set of conversations between the
customer, the company and consumer communities/networks as a space of potential co-
creation of experiences. The brand therefore becomes an experience as the brand is co-
created and evolves along the process with new experiences.
This kind of co-creating is also taking place whenever Wild Peeta hosts other
community events. Lately they have hosted the annual "Bakefest in Dubai",
#BakeFestDXB on Twitter, which consists of social media followers and regular
customers. Therefore, the event generates joint value for both customers and Wild Peeta.
By adding a hashtag (#) to the name, the term becomes searchable on Twitter, and other
followers can connect with the event online or offline at the restaurant.
Arranging and hosting community events like this also contributes to a
company's positive reputation and creates a competitive advantage as a CSR initiative.
Furthermore, such activities also help positioning the brand against competitors. Brand

Prahalad & Ramaswamy: "Co-creation experiences: the next practice in value creation", p. 8
positioning is defined by David Aaker as the part of the brand identity and value
proposition that is to be actively communicated to the target audience and that
demonstrates and advantage over competing brands
. In addition to that, brand
positioning can be compared with differentiation strategies as means of achieving
competitive advantage as suggested by Michael Porter: Differentiation occurs when the
products of an organization meet the needs of some customers in the market place better
than others.

By hosting the first baking festival, Wild Peeta also distinguished themselves
in terms of differentiation since nobody had hosted or organized such an event before. The
baking festival was announced on Wild Peeta's tweet-up website with this invitation:

#BakeFestDXB is a social gathering of the community this Eid for wholesome
food and fresh drinks. Wild Peeta's tweet-ups are open-source so you decide
what you want to do at them and we'll support you in any way we can. You
will get the chance to meet amazing community bakers, confectionary, & ice
cream makers and taste/buy their fresh homemade products. They inspire us
with their ideas so please support them, so they can compete with

Before the event, local food bloggers and food enthusiasts had been promoting the event
by blogging or tweeting about it online. When the actual #BakeFestDXB took place, all
the mentions online generated a lot of traffic, and all the publicity was shown live on the
newly established Twitter Wall as mentioned earlier. The #BakeFestDXB reached
'trending' status for topics discussed on Twitter that day since many Twitter users from the
Dubai community discussed the baking festival online. At the same time, Wild Peeta also
reached the 'trending' status on Twitter and thereby generated a lot of word-of-mouth
marketing for the brand, thus supporting both tribal aspects of marketing and co-creation
experience for Wild Peeta and their followers.

David Aaker: Building Strong Brands p. 176
Richard Lynch: Strategic Management p. 305

8. Conclusion

This thesis has investigated how Wild Peeta effectively makes use of social media to gain
a competitive advantage in front of their competitors. Firstly, they offer an online presence
that is not found anywhere else in the region because of their unique way of making real
and authentic conversations. Secondly, they have built an online and an offline community
and 'tribe' consisting of a wide range of stakeholders that are beneficial for Wild Peeta in
many ways. Wild Peeta have provided a link that bridges that gap between the Emirati
population and the expats. Their online and offline communication and dialogue facilitates
a cultural understanding that is new to the community. In this way they are able to add a
'societal link' to their product offerings.
Their online presence is vast, and by using engagement and participation
marketing to obtain real, honest and 'very personal interaction', they have gathered
valuable feedback and customer insight. Wild Peeta has established a close relationship
with their stakeholders and followers, and they have open-sourced many important
strategic decisions to their followers. These initiatives demonstrate a great deal of trust
between Wild Peeta and their social media followers, "their virtual board members", and
they have generated a lot press coverage by virtue of open-sourcing ideas and projects. As
an added bonus, they have proved that they are committed to engaging in the local
community, for instance as with the collaboration between the local university and Wild
Peeta for interior design of the restaurant.
By utilizing the potential in the community and of their followers, they have
been able to co-create value for both the brand and the followers. Wild Peeta follows all
five principles of participation marketing by engaging in real communication on Twitter
and during community events and as a daily way of communicating with and getting
feedback from their customers and followers.
Using participatory media as suggested by Kliatcho for a revised IMC strategy
enables Wild Peeta to attract new customers and improve their customer retention. At the
same time they increase their market share and number of followers as well as brand
awareness. Hosting community events like #BakeFestDXB generates significant word-of-
mouth marketing and reached 'trending' status in the UAE as well. Wild Peeta has
therefore been able to improve their marketing return on investment simply by using very
inexpensive social media strategies.
Finally, the findings in this thesis also showed that Wild Peeta both make use
of tribal and relational marketing strategies. By focusing on Twitter as social media
platform they are able to differentiate between individual and community messages
online, thus fulfilling the postmodern customers' need for both individualism and
affiliation with a tribe or community as mentioned by Cova. The study also showed that
although Wild Peeta do not characterize their business as being 'CSR-driven', it is still
possible to interpret some of their activities as being deeply rooted in Arabic and Islamic
traditions. Furthermore, the study concluded that the Wild Peeta community does indeed
contain similar links, culture and visions of life, and that by participating in these
community initatives, customers and followers are linked to each other as members of the
tribe, both online and offline.
The study also showed that there were difficulties for the outlet in Deira City
Centre, and that this could be a warning signal for the future plans about expanding and
franchising the brand only by using social media. A mall outlet does not contain the same
possibilities for community events or a sense of 'belonging' for the customer. Wild Peeta
has tapped into a community feeling and bridged a gap between community initiatives
and even different cultures. But the present method of winning one follower at a time
might be too difficult to carry out overseas and in completely different cultural settings.
Finally, the latest TV show project for Wild Peeta seems to be positively
perceived by the key stakeholders in the research interview. Although it is a very
innovative venture, the customers are hoping for increased brand awareness and even
more positive word-of mouth for Wild Peeta.


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"Dubai Eye 103.8 FM interview with Wild Peeta (#BuildAPeeta)"

Additional sources:

Radio interview

February 8, 2012:

"Dubai Eye 103.8 FM interview with Wild Peeta, Alexander McNabb and Paul Castle

Interview with Mohammed Al Awadhi (MA), Co-founder of Wild Peeta by the author
Date: December 28, 2010
Duration: 28 minutes
Place: Wild Peeta Restaurant, Healthcare City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

NE: First of all I would love to hear a little bit about the background of your company.
How did it all start at Wild Peeta?
MA: Uhm, well we uhm, I think we were always interested in food and our family food is
a very important thing. Its a place where we all get together and, you know, and share
stories and, you know, and build our relationships. And at home our mother and father
were always cooking so we grew up with a good foundation of food, you know. We also
ate out at restaurants, at fast food and things like that but it wasnt every day. It was like on
a special occasion. I remember on Thursday night was the special occasion and we would
go and have like a hamburger somewhere, you know. So we grew up eating food that was
cooked at home. Lots of vegetables and stuff like that. And when I graduated from high
school I decided to go into hotel management and I trained for about a year at the
Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai. My brother trained at the Hilton Hotel for a few months as
well and that was in Houston. After doing that training I basically worked in the kitchen, I
worked in banquets, I was a waiter, I worked in the restaurant, coffee shops, I worked at
front desk. It taught me a lot about not just the hospitality industry but about business in
general and thats when I changed my mind and said Im studying business, I dont want to
go into this. So I got a business degree and so did my brother. Then after that we went into
the multinational companies and worked for companies like Philips, Master Foods,
Beiersdorf, British American Tobacco and Pepsi. So we did that ....
NE: Its a wide range....
MA: Yeah, and really diverse products but all amazing brands and we learned a lot about
what makes a great brand, you know
NE: Yeah
MA: And we learned a lot, not just about marketing but about logistics and HR, and we
learned about finance and sales and everything else. So we did that for 12 years and we
had like pretty big positions managing a very large area. We were responsible for the
Middle East, some parts of Africa, some parts of the Mediterranean, some parts of West
Asia. And thats when we, you know, during these 12 years with the multinational
companies we started to think of this new concept...
NE: Mmm
MA: ... which, you know, which was a local sandwich, not a local sandwich but a
sandwich from the Middle East. We had this idea of why dont we evolve the sandwich...
why dont we make it relevant to today and to more people? Because eh... And the
sandwich is the shawarma. If you go to the Middle East, I mean, then you cannot leave
without having a shawarma. And we looked at that and we looked around the world and
said you know what, predominantly the shawarma is famous in the the Middle East and
then in very few places around the world its also popular.
NE: We do have it in Denmark, thank goodness
MA: You have it in Denmark as well... The other thing is that whenever I eat a shawarma
around the world its never good, you know, its not like here. But however, the Turks
have done a great job with the Dner, you know, their sandwich. And its relatively like
the same concept. And the Greeks with the Gyros.
NE: Yeah
MA: And that people know about it more. So we were like, you know, we need to evolve
the sandwich called the shawarma so that people know that it can compete on the level of
the hamburger or the hotdog or the pizza. And our rationale was if people will eat raw fish,
you know, they will eat the shawarma...
NE: Yeah
MA: ... and sushi is what Im referring to. So that was the first step. The second step was
how can we make it more... how can we open it up so more people will like it?. Because
the shawarma is very basic: Its meat or chicken, beef or chicken or lamb or chicken. Its
very few vegetables, maybe two vegetables. Its a white bread and its two sauces. So the
first thing we did was... Why dont we make more flavors? So we came up with about 12
flavors. These flavors are Thai, Mexican, Italian, Red & White ... We made just recently
the Khaleeji, which is the local sauce. So we added lots of sauces. The other thing is that
there are a lot of vegetarians around the world. And me personally, I dont like to eat meat
all the time, so sometimes I just want vegetables. So we said why dont we create a good
vegetarian sandwich, not just an option, but something that people actually appreciate and
like. So we created the first vegetarian shawarma and, in fact, The Vegetarian Society of
the Middle East hold meetings here and they come and eat here. We have a lot of
vegetarians that come to shawarma places to eat
NE: It can be difficult being a vegetarian opting for fast food, so...
MA: Absolutely! The other thing we did was that we added more vegetables, because we
felt that when you go out to eat, its imbalanced. You get a lot of carbohydrates, you get a
lot of protein in the form of meat, and you hardly get any vegetables. So we added about
12 vegetables and vegetables that are actually very good for you and very green. So we use
romaine lettuce, we use parsley, we use spinach, we use red cabbage, carrots and so forth,
so... And in fact, we encourage people when they order our Wild Peetas, we actually
encourage them to add more vegetables into their sandwiches, because people are just so
not used to eating vegetables.
NE: So are you on some kind of mission or what in terms of adding vegetables?
MA: Definitely. Definitely. I mean, for us, Wild Peeta is not just a business to make
money, you know. I think we have, like, a duty to fulfill, you know, and ... if something is
not good for people, we cannot sell it. We just cant. No matter how much money or how
profitable it will be, we just cannot do it. So thats why, you know we.... We are
encouraging people to eat more vegetables.
We are evolving our bread to include more complex carbohydrates, you know, so we have
now a brown pita bread, we want to have more and more such pitas. Even our meat
portioning is about 90 grams which is what a human being should eat in one portion, so
you know, when you go around you know, when you look at a steak, you see 250 grams,
500 grams. Thats like ridiculous.
NE: Yeah
MA: So those are the things that we do and we dont fry anything at Wild Peeta, so you
wont find French fries or anything like that. If we do have to use potatoes, we bake it, or
its very minimal. If we have to use things like rice, we use brown rice. If we have to
thicken any of our sauces, instead of using white flour we try to use chick pea flour which
is a superfood. So we sneak in a lot of nutrition into peoples bodies through the
shawarma. I think its very important going forward for businesses to start looking at what
they do from an ethical perspective, you know. And in the past business has always been
about shareholder value and about how much profit I could make. And then they have....
multinational companies... they have this department called CSR - Corporate Social
Responsibility. And its almost as if were doing something wrong, our conscience is
killing us so
NE: ... lets compensate
MA: ... Yeah, lets try and do something but keep on doing what were doing... which is
wrong. So for us, we dont have a CSR program. Everything we do has to be responsible.
So any decision we make has to be responsible because if you dont, then something is
going to be destroyed. Whether its people, whether its the planet, maybe not necessarily
yourself but other people.
NE: But is that common here - to incorporate these things? How do you compare to other
MA: I dont see it much. I see a lot of CSR programs with a lot of companies, like I said,
which are also good, but Im just not .... I think you have to look at it holistically, you
know, and not be reactive. Not do something and then react and say we will compensate
by doing this. So its... I think Im also seeing it more and more in that respect, so more
and more companies are looking at their business and saying you know what, I need to be
more responsible with what I do which is really important. We look at change, not as
something that you have to create a big change, but we believe you can create little change
and if everybody creates little change, it adds up and it will be a huge change. So thats
where we stand with our product.
NE: Of course Im very curious to hear about the background behind the use of social
media at Wild Peeta. I noticed you have a Facebook page, you have a Twitter profile, and
you are very active on both these platforms. So how does that add value to your business?
MA: Well, I mean when we were working with the multinational companies, we were
basically cut off from customers. We always talked about our customers like they are the
most important things in the world, which could be true, but we rarely ever saw our
customers. The only time we saw our customers was during what we used to call market
visits. So it was very, like, clinical... the way we looked at customers. Then the way we
interacted with customers was in an environment where we paid somebody to create an
environment where we could watch the customer answering questions. And that is market
research. We paid other companies to tell us about our customers. And then we would sit
on a chair behind a glass watching... They were like animals from another planet and we
never agreed with that! And throughout our time with multinational companies, if anybody
emailed us, wrote to us or called us, we would always spend time with that person to get to
know that person. And if you work with multinational companies they always tell you to
prioritize which means dont waste your time with these little things.
NE: So now youre wasting a lot of time with little things?
MA: Yeah! But I think just that that... interaction with people who choose to buy your
products, that is the most important thing that you need to do. So after we left the
multinational companies we decided that we learned a lot, but we also have to do what we
believe. As a small business you dont have a huge budget. So you cannot afford agencies,
you cannot afford movies or magazine ads or newspapers, radio, TV, any of that. Luckily
we like to be tech savvy and we said Lets just open up a Facebook group and see how
that works.
NE: Was it a group first?
MA: Yeah, it was a group. If you look at our business plan which we worked on for about
ten years... In it we write that we will focus on internet marketing, but this was 12 years
ago, before Facebook, Twitter, all these things. We said that we would not have an
investment to traditional media, but we would put this on the internet marketing, whatever
that is, banners, or whatever that is. And when we opened up, luckily this whole Facebook
and Twitter craze was pretty big. Lets just open it. Now this is about two years ago and at
that time it wasnt called social media marketing, we just did something, right? So we
opened up a group and the people who joined us were our family and friends. And little by
little we grew that. One person joined.... We just focused on that one person... That one
person told somebody else, it turned into two people who told another person and it turned
into four, into eight and so forth.
NE: So what happened in the group in the beginning? How were the early days of social
media at Wild Peeta?
MA: If you look at our Facebook group, the first post that we put over there was that we
wrote a Note. We basically told people that we have this crazy idea that were going to
leave our jobs... God help us. And that we were going to write about everything we do
and thank you for listening. And you can read that post, this is the first post that we did.
All we did was talk about what we were doing and how we would get this whole thing
together, where we bought the chairs from, you know, any issues we had with suppliers -
what problems are we facing as small businesses. We talked about things that we were
interested in, you know, just REAL things, you know, things that mattered. We rarely.... I
dont think we marketed Wild Peeta, you know, we certainly didnt push information about
our menus, about our food and things like that. But people asked us, and we would answer.
Traditional media is about shoving things down your throat and in your face, whether you
want it or not. We just talked about stuff that interested us. We talked about our daily lives,
and we put it on the Facebook group, we left it there and if anybody was interested, they
would go and pick it up and read it. So two years later, we have about 6-7000 people
following us, direct followers. And each of those will have about anywhere between a
hundred to a thousand people following them, so now were talking about into the
hundreds of thousands of indirect followers, if not more than that. And during this time,
we... like I said, the only people who did a great job in terms of marketing themselves on
the internet that I can remember, was Barack Obama. But he did it from an activism /social
point of view. He didnt do it from a brand/marketing perspective.
NE: And what about compared to other companies in the region? Are other small
businesses using the same methods?
MA: Now they are, definitely, now they are. Now there are so many people who are
offering consultancy services and specialized in this. For us at that time, it was a lot of trial
and error. So we did something, it worked - great - we kept on doing it. We did something
else, it didnt work - we stopped doing it. So there was not a lot of research that we could
look into and say how do we social media market?. So we were kind of making it up as
we go. And the cool thing about the internet is that its okay to make mistakes. Theres
absolutely nothing wrong with making mistakes. And we made a lot of them. And we
learned from them. And we progressed.
NE: What happened, for instance?
MA: Off the top of my head I cant remember anything in specific, but there were times
where, you know, our followers would come back to us and say we dont like this!, you
know? And we would look at it and we would say okay, point taken, and we wont do
that again. Or they would react and say this is really cool and then we would continue
to do that. And again, during this time, we made a few more decisions, which was Always
to keep it real, you know, and never to push information about Wild Peeta down
peoples throats. To get to know as many people as possible, you know, personally as
well, and to focus on a quality of followship, not the quantity of followship. There were
people who had tens of thousands of followers, but the quality of that followship was not
good. So we said were going to it slow, but the one thousand, the six thousand people
who follow us is equivalent to hundreds of thousands of regular followers. Because these
people they joined us because they WANTED to join us. They follow us still because they
care about us. And if thats the case, then our bond is so much stronger than if you have a
competition and you say Anybody joins me gets a free gift. Thats very temporary and it
motivates people to join you, to follow you, for superficial reasons. Most likely, maybe
they will follow you for now, but theres no real bond, and the likelihood that theyre
going to unfollow you is high. One month after opening we had a flood in Wild Peeta. So
we... it took us a year, almost, to build this place... And then one month after opening we
had a flood, the whole place had to shut down. Basically there was water coming from the
roof that flooded the whole place. What we did is we took pictures and we posted it on
Twitter and tweeted that this was happening and were closed... Because we didnt want
people to come to Wild Peeta and the place was closed. And IMMEDIATELY we got
replies from our followers saying Were coming down there and were going to fix it!.
NE: Really?
MA: ... And we had people come to Wild Peeta, and they said What can we do, and how
can we help, how can we fix this?.
NE: Okay, so that is a good follower!
MA: We had media coming down and they wrote a story about our little business.
NE: And they heard about it from Twitter?
MA: Yeah, from Twitter as well, you know, and thats the power of a quality of
followship, not a quantity of followship.
NE: What else have you done to... sort of engage with your customers or followers? Have
you done anything special?
MA: I think its a very simple thing. I think you just have to keep it real. We talked about
issues and topics that interested us... things like community issues, social issues, small
business issues, things related to local charity and international charity. Things related to
human development, things related to nutrition,
NE: So thats the CSR-driven perspective again, sort of?
MA: Well, its not... you know, I guess you can label it CSR, but its actually just my
brother and I and what were interested in, you know, so... We didnt plan anything, we
didnt say we want people who are interested in sports to come to Wild Peeta. It wasnt
like that, we just loved sports ourselves and we just talked about sports and people talked
to us about sports, and we formed a relationship. So really, it was as simple as keeping it
real, keeping it honest, a lot of listening, you know, what people tell us.... Things about our
business, we would listen. And there are people who say yeah, but you cannot please
everybody. Everybody has an opinion, right? But theres a method to it and the method is
when enough people are telling you something, something is wrong. So were constantly
listening and whats happened is that Wild Peeta has evolved so much since the first day
that we opened. How we were on day one compared to now is, like, were a totally
different business. We have literally evolved in leaps, and we joke and say Wild Peeta
grows in three months, what human/traditional companies grow in one or two years. So
we grow in internet years, and other people grow in human years. And its the truth
because... I dont know whether its because were a small business and we can develop
this fast, but because we have access to thousands and thousands of experts in every field
you can imagine. From scientists and professors, teachers, students and people in the food
industry and bankers and just ... you name it! And these people are our invisible advisors.
And they advise us every day on every aspect of our business. And we take that on board
and we change for the better.
NE: But I think that the difference is, then, that you really listen to your new friends or
followers, and thats maybe the difference because you can have these active pages, but if
you dont really reply in the right way or respond in a manner that will make things better,
it is useless, it doesnt really help.
MA: Yeah. I think there are two problems when it comes to listening. One is when people
get intimidated and insecure when you tell them about something that theyre doing wrong.
And then people feel that maybe I shouldnt say anything... typically when you give
somebody some feedback, they are very defensive, whoever it is, it doesnt matter. And
what tends to happen is that people then are not honest in general. When you ask them So,
how is it going?, theyre like good, its like an automatic reaction. Then on the flip side,
there is those people where you give feedback and they patronize you and say Thank you
very much, you know, well take that into consideration, but they wont, you know. So
people are very hesitant to actually give you feedback, so what we do is: 1) We ask. And
we push the boundary and we say How can we make it better?. And then people go Oh,
okay... Now I dont feel so self-conscious, now Ill tell you. And then when people give
us a criticism, we get back to them. We say Listen, thank you very much... Remember
that time? Now weve done this. Or... were honest with them when they say We come
in here, and your food was not ready at this time and you guys said you were going to be
ready we give them the real reason why. And maybe its because we were not prepared,
we reply and we say Im so sorry, we made a mistake... We were not prepared, and now
Im going to meet with my team and were going to put together a plan so we can prepare
NE: Yeah.
MA: Honesty.
NE: Yeah.
ME: And at the beginning, this shocked people... As simple as being honest. Seriously!
NE: Yeah.
MA: And slowly people were starting to feel Wow, I trust these guys. Theyre not just
saying this. They really mean it. And today, there are so many people who feel
comfortable telling us about our business, good or bad. Every day! And its as if were
having a conversation. Theyre like this was not good, that was great or... And thats
amazing. You cannot buy this with all the money in the world.
NE: Exactly.
MA: You know, so were very privileged to get this information.
NE: All right. Where do you see Wild Peeta in two or three years?
MA: Well, by 2015 we plan to have one hundred Wild Peetas in The Gulf. And we will
probably have an international location by then as well. Our goal is for Wild Peeta to go
global, so we will be in every continent in the world and we will continue to be who we
are. But what were going to look like... and how were going to operate, I have no idea.
Because we have changed and evolved so much in one year I honestly dont know what
were going to look like in one year from now.
And thats the power of social media.
NE: All right, thank you very much.

Interview with Nick by the author (NE).
Date: January 14, 2012
Duration: 24 minutes
Place: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

NE: Okay, Nick, I would like if you could tell me a little bit about yourself and how you
got involved in the Wild Peeta community and how it all started for you
NR: Sure, I am Nick, a.k.a. @theregos on Twitter. By day I am a games journalist for ME, so I play video games for a living and then write about them. How I got
sucked into Wild Peeta was when I first joined Twitter, I didnt know who to follow. Then
I started following a few select people in Dubai, and kind of seeing who they were having
conversations with. And then one of the accounts that everybody seemed to be talking to
was someone called Wildpeeta (@wildpeeta). And I thought what the hell is Wild Peeta?
and I followed the account and looked at their website and said oh, its a shawarma shop
and thought thats kind of lame and kind of dismissed it. But then I realized that they
were actually really active on Twitter and they were talking about anything going on in
Dubai, and talking about their store and stuff, so thats how it became quite a well-known
brand in the beginning and they seemed kind of cool. And then what happened is that one
of the girls on Twitter said okay, we are going to have a Tweet Up at Wild Peeta and, you
know, we invite people, and I said okay, let me just go and see. It was my first Twitter
event and I ended up at the store having a shawarma, met some people and actually had
quite a lot of fun and met the brothers and introduced myself and said Im @theregos on
Twitter and so forth. So that was kind of how I got sucked into their little world of Wild
Peeta. And then obviously they had the meltdown with the roof caving in and the store
being closed and everything so then they moved to the new location in World Trade Centre
and they had a branch open there. So that is how I got involved in it and it has been a lot of
fun having them around. I always have a lot of jokes via DM (private messages on Twitter)
with the brothers, so yeah, that is how I got involved with them.
NE: How would you describe the Wild Peeta community?
NR: The interesting thing about Wild Peeta is that anybody who you ask about, like, what
do you think about Wild Peeta?... The way they talk about the brothers, the way they talk
about Wild Peeta is that they talk about it as a person, rather than a brand. Because when
you look at Wild Peeta it is actually a shop, you know? It is a brand. But whenever you are
having a conversation on Twitter, you are talking to Wild Peeta, but you are talking to a
person and that is one of the brothers behind that brand. So it is kind of interesting to know
that their medium of communication is purely social media. They do not... there are no
billboards, there are no newspaper ads, there is no radio ad, they do everything to Twitter
and Facebook. And so most of their success, because of that, because they are engaged in
the community 24/7, they have been able to market their brand, and, you know, kind of
communicate with people just using social media. So if you talk to anyone about Wild
Peeta, the way they express it is that they are talking to an individual living person. And it
is... in that way it is an organic brand that lives and breathes through the social media
community. So that is the beauty of it. If you look at any other brands that are on Twitter
and that are active, like Dubai Malls or any of the big names, they have a social media
presence, but you do not feel the connection like you do with Wild Peeta. Because it is... it
feels like you are talking to an actual person rather than just talking to somebody who
manages a Twitter account on their behalf.
NE: So do you think that this makes the whole conversation or engagement more real to
you as a customer?
NR: Absolutely, because you know that it is not a team of people looking after a Twitter
account. It is one person, or at the maximum two. I mean, you have Wild Peeta and
Gourmet Shawarma, but they are two different accounts, so you know that there is
somebody when you talk to them. Whenever there is an issue, for example like the one we
had with the sandwiches or with the tea, if there is a problem, we just message them and
they immediately respond back. Because they know that they are not on Twitter just to
make friends, they are on Twitter to respect their brand, to promote and to get feedback
from the community. Everything they have got so far has been driven by the community
feedback. So anytime something changes and we do not like it, we tell them and they
instantly will try and rectify it. There are numerous occasions where I have commented
okay this sandwich is amazing or can you try adding this to your sauce or whatever,
and they have always let me know that oh yes, good suggestion, we will take it onboard,
or come back, we have changed the recipe, or something like that. So it is that dedication
to their following and the interaction is what makes their social media a success.
NE: Yeah. I know that you are also involved in the BakeFest and I think the Book Club as
well? So how did that start for you? How were you invited into this organic community?
NR: Okay. Well, with the Book Club, I am just a member of the Book Club, and I got into
it because I follow @TDAllonsy on Twitter. And she was posting many months ago that
they were having a book club originally at The Shelter in Al Quoz. So I again joined up
because it had been ages since I had read a book, and I really wanted to get to know some
people who liked books and get some recommendations. I read some amazing books
because they were in the book club. So what happened what that eventually The Shelter
was closing down, and we were looking for other venues like coffee shops etc. but it just
was not really happening and it was not working. So @TDAllonsy approached Wild Peeta
back when they were in the Healthcare City and asked look, can we use your venue as a
book club meeting and they said sure, come on in, we will even give you 10 or 20%
discount for your book club members. So it was done and dusted. And originally we had a
lot of support from other members of the community to go ahead with the book club. Wild
Peeta has now basically become our meeting point, and every third Saturday of the month
we talk about books and about events that are happening in Dubai, literature festivals and
things like that. And it is because we can just walk into Wild Peeta and use the space. We
do not have to order anything. I mean, we do, but their mantra is If you need to use our
space, just come on in. We will not force you to look around at our menu or buy anything.
You want our Internet? Just come on in and use our Internet, we do not really care. So it
is that kind of open-door policy that I think makes Wild Peeta such a success. So we use
their space all the time for various events, and the Book Club is one of them. With
BakeFest, it originally started as just a random conversation on Twitter with some of the
followers from Wild Peeta and myself saying we should have a big cake thing, we should
have a bake-off. Then Wild Peeta kind of joined us in the conversation and said Yeah,
we should really do that. I replied to him and said Well, make it happen!, and Wild
Peeta said Okay, fine, come on down to our shop and we will see what you can do. We
had the first BakeFest at the original Wild Peeta in Healthcare City, and there were, I think,
eight of us that came with cakes and toffee, brownies, and jam, and all kinds of stuff. And
the responses were really encouraging. We had quite a good crowd, but because the venue
was so small...
NE: It was very small, I think
NR: It was difficult to accommodate large crowds of people, so they came inside and
bought stuff and went outside to sit on the pavement and just started eating. So it was a
really really good incentive, and the objective of the BakeFest is to encourage community
bakers, so people who have a passion for baking but are not quite sure where to put their
efforts. For us, BakeFest becomes a sort of outlet where anyone who has a talent for
baking or anyone who just likes making stuff can come in and sell and get a little bit more
publicity and get people to know about their product.
NE: Yeah
NR: And the second BakeFest was held at the new Wild Peeta in the World Trade Centre,
and that was a really good turnout as well. The third one we had recently, and it was
absolutely phenomenal. In the second BakeFest we had 14 community bakers, but this time
around I had 37 people approach me and say I want to take part in the BakeFest. So it
was absolutely phenomenal. So the word got out that we had this amazing event. People
had read up on my past coverage and said they wanted to be a part of it. So I had 37 bakers
email me that said I want to be a part of it, so in the end I just put everybody in a hat, I
drew the first eight people to get the first eight tables, and everybody else went onto an
online poll to get their followers. Again, going back to the whole theory of using social
media to communicate with followers, so they went into an online poll and all people had
to do was using email, Facebook and Twitter, blast it out to the followers and Facebook to
get people to vote for them. And then the last few tables were picked up by the top five or
six people.
NE: Aha
NR: The event was absolutely a success. We had close to 300 people showing up. It was
wave after wave of people coming and supporting their friends and finding new people
who enjoy baking. It was so much fun.
NE: Do you think it is always about the number of people who attend the event, or could
you also talk about a successful event at a much smaller scale at Wild Peeta?
NR: I think a lot of people will look and determine the success by the turnout, which is not
always the reality. The reason I look at BakeFest to be a success based on numbers is
because I had people there who were taking part in BakeFest the very first time, and they
really needed this as a kind of ego boost for them. So I was really pushing and saying I
need hundreds of people to show up, so tell your family, friends and co-workers to show
up. So for me it was important that people who were there for the first time got a lot of
support and a good turnout. There are events we have done or that I have attended where
we got less than 20 people show up, but we still had a lot of fun. There was a book drive
a few months ago to donate books for charity, and we had maybe a handful of people show
up on the day, and we had a ton of books donated. So that was a success in itself. So for
me it really depends on the nature of the event to determine the success. Our book club can
vary between anything from five to 20 people turning up.
NE: Yeah
NR: But every session we have, we have a lot of fun and really good books being
recommended. So it really depends on the nature of the event.
NE: Why do you think they are so keen on getting involved with the community? Why do
you think they offer the Open Space to these events as a venue?
NR: I think it is because they realize that it is their community that drives their business.
And because they do not have any other marketing channels, they need to rely on social
media. And they need to rely on the social media community to dictate what they should
do with their business, like they are doing with their social media TV. They are letting
their followers tell them where they should be going, where they should be traveling,
where they should be eating and who they should be meeting. So for Wild Peeta, their
bread and butter is social media...
NE: Yeah
NR: You cannot be on social media or claim to be an active social media person and just
put five tweets a day or respond to the occasional tweet. You need to be on it 24/7
monitoring your account, responding to questions and engaging with the community. Not
just talking about your brand. If you go through Wild Peetas timeline, you will very rarely
find a tweet actually about their shawarma. The last thing I remember was them saying
oh, we have got a new Karakccino, as we speak, come on down and try it.
NE: Yeah
NR: 99% of their tweets are just them talking to all the people. The other 1% is saying we
have a new secret sauce, or a new recipe where they say come on down and try it, we
have got a new Wi-Fi or whatever. They do not put out random blasts promoting their
business. They do not. They just let the community promote it for themselves, you know?
So I think that is what makes it such a success, and that is why they need to be active in the
community at any given time. They cannot afford to let their account just kind of go to
NE: Okay, I would like to change focus a bit here. I noticed from your Twitter account that
you often go to lunch at Wild Peeta. What is the real reason why you keep coming back
there (as an individual customer)?
NR: Well, if you look at their base product, it is a shawarma. I can get a shawarma less
than 100 meters from my place and get a shawarma there. The reason I go to Wild Peeta is
that when the food is done in such a way where you have control over what goes into your
shawarma, and the fact that I can get it on a brown pita bread. I kind of hate garlic
mayonnaise which is in a traditional shawarma. At Wild Peeta I can have a spicy Indian
sauce or something with mint, or an Italian sauce. The base product is the same, but it is
the amount of detail that goes into it and the fact that you can have whatever you want in it
is great, so it builds a better sandwich. The second thing is that they give the community
this space and they give so much to it, so the least you can do is, if you are in the area, just
walk on in and see if the guys are there, say hi to them or the staff, and just go and have a
NE: Yeah
NR: For me... I do not really go because they make the best shawarmas in town, no, I have
had better shawarmas, but I go there because as somebody who is part of their community,
part of that Twitter community, it is my way of giving back to them
NE: Yeah
NR: Because they do not put in a conscious effort to promote their product or their brand,
so they kind of rely on us to if you are passing by, come and buy a sandwich, or do not
buy a sandwich, we dont care, but if you are around and you are really hungry, just come
on by. I mean, they make a good product, but it is really just our way of giving back to
them for all the stuff and all the support they give to the community.
NE: Yeah, I think there are 17,000 other restaurants in Dubai that you can go to!
NR: Yes, you can come to a mall and pay 40 Dirhams for a shawarma, it is entirely up to
NE: So how does it add value to your own experience as a customer?
NR: I think the fact that you, again, because of the way they have engineered the whole
shawarma creation process. It is not rocket science. There are deli sandwich places that
do exactly the same thing. But they have taken that idea of a deli shawarma and
implemented that in their business.
So it is the same base product that you would get in any other shop, but you can customize
it completely.
NE: Yeah. There is something else I want to ask you about. Wild Peeta often describe their
community as a tribe.
NR: Yeah, Goam Peeta
NE: How do you see that, and do you agree with this term and how do you understand it?
NR: I think tribe is a rather quirky way of looking at all of us. We are their community,
we are their fans, their friends and so on, so it is kind of cool that they call us this Goam
Peeta (= tribe Peeta).
NE: Yeah
NR: But that is kind of how they want to describe us, that everything someone says kind of
resonates with the rest of the people. Because if you make a suggestion about it on their
Twitter feed and they retweet it or respond to it, all their followers will see it. So if people
enjoy their product and share their passion for it and make a suggestion, then it is going to
affect them as well. So if I say your sauce should be spicier, there could be 50 other
people who will agree with me, there could be 200 others who do not. So that is the tribe, it
is basically like we are sitting around in a circle and airing our opinions like in a town hall
NE: Yeah
NR: So I think that tribe is a very apt way of describing the community because that is
exactly what it is, tribe Peeta, Goam Peeta.
NE: Cool. All right, I also have a question about the Peeta Planet or the social TV project
that they are working on right now. I would like to hear what is your impression about this
so far?
NR: They are crazy, they are absolutely crazy!
NE: Yeah?
NR: But that aside, that is a really interesting idea because, I mean, they have a very strong
Twitter following, so they can afford to say that we are going to let our followers tell us
where to go. Obviously there are guidelines that they are following subconsciously, about
where to go, the budget and so on, but from what I have been seeing so far, it is like they
are doing a walkabout with food as told by the Twitter community. I think it is a very
interesting way to write a TV show. There is kind of no script, there is no clue what you
are doing, and your community is telling you where to go. It is a very interesting way, and
it kind of makes you feel like you are the producer, because you are telling them to go
there, eat this, do this, and meet this person, and take a photo. I was looking at the Peeta
Planet hashtag, and one of the girls said go to this place in Japan and take a photo under
the cherry blossom tree. Those were very specific instructions, and I think it is a very
interesting concept. The media has picked up on it and are describing it as pioneering, the
way that social media and social TV is. I kind of agree with that because no one has ever
done that before, and it is a crazy enough idea that it might just work. So I wish them the
best of luck, and for sure we will be following them on Twitter to see what happens, but as
it sounds it is a very interesting idea, so it will be good to see how it unfolds.
NE: What do you think it is going to do for the Wild Peeta tribe or the community?
NR: I think the good thing that will come out of it is a lot of people will, even if they are
not a part of Wild Peeta, they will learn about places that they should be seeing. Even in
the UAE there are loads of places that I would never have heard about that I will pick up
on in the Twitter feed or from the TV show. So if this place gives the best kebab or the best
curry, I want to go and try it myself. If they are in London or Japan and say this is the
place we went to for sushi, I want to go there myself when I am in Japan. So it is like a
travel channel. They will be advising us in return about places they have been to and what
they think of it. So it is a win-win situation for everyone.
NE: And how do you think this Social TV is going to influence the brand?
NR: I think that it will publicize, I mean, when it is broadcast, it will not be saying that
Wild Peeta is going around the world. It will say that two brothers, Mohamed and
Peyman, are going, and they have a shop called Wild Peeta. So I think when people start
hearing that they will actually make a conscious effort to see what the heck is Wild
Peeta?. I think that will then drive people to the store and to the website and kind of get
people to recognize the brand. They will say oh, you are the guys that went trekking
around Japan or Brazil or whatever. So I think that will help. It may not be an immediate
increase in following or increase in awareness, but I think that as the show runs and as the
people learn more about what these guys are doing, it will build up and strengthen their
brand, I am sure. Definitely.

Interview with Anastacia by the author (NE).
Date: January 19, 2012
Duration: 22 minutes
Place: Wild Peeta Open Space, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

NE: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in the Wild Peeta
TD: It just sort of happened. I was part of the Dubai community, so... Well, Im Anastacia
and known on Twitter as @TDAllonsy. Thats actually what people refer to me in real life
as well. They dont call me Anastacia, they call me TD. I think my first trip to Wild Peeta
was in December a few years ago, right after they opened in Healthcare City. It was right
after National Day. There was 30 of us. We got together for a games Tweet-Up. We just
played board games. Just the sort of normal thing that friends do and that tweeps do as
NE: Was that the first community event that you went to?
TD: No, it wasnt. The first event I went to was the Twestival in May. But I was on Twitter
for a while before I started really getting into the Dubai community. Im not sure why, but
things started growing, so eventually I started talking to people. I found a lot of my old
classmates as well. It really connects the community ... with similar taste etc.
NE: So you were actively using Twitter to connect with people you knew already?
TD: Yeah, and to make new friends as well, to talk with people. I had met a bunch of
people who had similar interests to mine, so we could talk about similar things. And then
things moved on and I got interested in things that other people were interested in as well
and vice versa. You know, its a community thing.
NE: What Im curious about knowing is how you first perceived the Wild Peeta
Community - what were your first impressions, and how would you describe that?
TD: Well, considering that Im vegetarian, I was very happy to hear that finally there is a
shawarma that offers vegetarian choice. Plus its a healthier alternative to a lot of the other
stuff that we see out there because they make their own sauces and you know, generally
its fresh with vegetables and stuff.
NE: How would you describe the social community vibe they are trying to create?
TD: Well, they ARE doing it right. Wild Peeta is one of the only, if not THE only
restaurant/organization that does community right because... especially here in Dubai its
a bit tricky to find places to do certain events for free. You either have to know somebody
very high up in the system, you know... or
NE: So what makes you think that they are doing it right?
TD: Because they let us run BookClub meetings here for free without charging us an arm
and a leg - because we are a community. And our members dont pay any fees to use the
book club, because whats the point, you have to pay fees to talk about books? Thats a big
turn-off for a lot of people. And the food. They take comments and respond to criticism.
You tell them something and they say yes, thats okay, we will take a look into it and we
will fix it. They apologize if something goes wrong, which sometimes happens,
obviously, theyre only human.
NE: Yeah, right. So if you looked at it from the book clubs perspective, what would
happen if you didnt have this place to meet?
TD: We would probably be somewhere in a coffee shop, but even there... it wouldnt be
us in terms of only us. I mean, here I can come in, I can pretty much behave as if its
my own home: I can rearrange the furniture, I can do whatever I want to a certain limit,
obviously. But there are no limits as far as you can write on the [glass] walls, the thought
walls and the blackboard, which is what we do.
NE: So... being part of this book club... Has that enabled you to mix with some of the other
communities that are revolving around Wild Peeta, like the Scrabble Club etc.?
TD: Yeah, definitely. I was taking part of the Scrabble Club at one point, but then things
got busy.
NE: So do you see a lot of interaction between these different communities?
TD: Yes, I do. There is the BakeFest that is happening here again. Wild Peeta doesnt earn
anything from them, but they let people use the space, because its for the community.
NE: Yeah
TD: Because if they were to go somewhere else, they would have to pay a lot of money to
do this sort of thing. They have also let us... as a book club, we have been collecting books
for a book sale for a school with special needs, because they want to build a bigger school,
but they need money for that. They wanted to raise some money by having a book sale. A
friend of mine was also in the book club and her brother is autistic, so this is his school.
Its not one of the bigger schools like the Dubai Autism Centre etc., so again its a
community things. And Wild Peeta were very happy to say yeah, sure, you can have Wild
Peeta as a drop-off point for books. I think there were about 200 books here alone, which
is good.
NE: Do you think that - if you zoomed out from a wider community perspective - what do
you think the impact is of all these initiatives by Wild Peeta - what has it done for Dubai?
TD: What it has done for Dubai - Dubai is all about the big companies. If youre a big
company, you can get venues for free if you advertise, you can get discounts. If youre a
small company, nobody wants to talk to you. Ive had that experience as a book club
approaching book shops for discounts etc. Magrudys were interested initially, but then
they went ahead and started their own book club, which again is a good thing for them,
because they cant actually afford to give away free books to the members, because they
are a book store. So we are back to the community thing. And this is why I think Wild
Peeta is special. If they were a big business like McDonalds, they wouldnt care.
NE: I noticed that Wild Peeta always refer to the Wild Peeta tribe. How do you see the
book club here - are you a part of the tribe, or how would you describe that?
TD: We are, definitely. Because... it goes back to the tribe mentality in terms of... if youre
treated good by a certain company, youre inclined to talk about them with your friends,
your family, your whatever. Ive done several assignments on Wild Peeta, I got the word
out about them in that way. So the whole tribe thing is sort of - you spread the word around
as well - so this is why they succeed as well. They dont just rely on doing it themselves,
because as a business owner, of course you are going to talk good about your own
business. But if your customers are talking about you, and if theyre saying a good thing,
thats good. If theyre saying a bad thing, obviously its not so good. But youre there, they
are there on Twitter and they can fix it because they see it.
NE: Have you heard about the social TV project?
TD: Yeah, Peeta Planet?
NE: Yeah, exactly
TD: They are in Japan now, I think
NE: Yeah... What do you make of all that?
TD: Its an interesting idea, definitely. You go where your followers want you to go.
NE: But how do you think it is going to impact their business and the community?
TD: Well, its an innovative idea, and as such, again, it will only do a lot of positive word
about them because they were the first to do this sort of thing. I havent heard of anybody
else doing this. I think there was somebody else in the US, but Im not sure he made it very
NE: Its going to be very interesting to follow the show and see what happens.
TD: Its interesting, its the whole... the way the community comes together. When they
were flooded back in 2009, I think...
NE: Right after the opening, actually
TD: Yeah, after they opened they flooded and they had to close. The Twitter community
was... you know, like, hey guys, we will help you repaint the place, we will help you
clean... Which other business will do that, will get that if they close? If McDonalds closed
because they got flooded, people would just walk by, saying it serves them right. If HP
or Microsoft... if they say hey, our headquarters got flooded, people are going to say
yes, finally! and watch their shares go down. Because Microsoft they dont have that
whole one-on-one relationship, they dont talk with their customers or such. This is the
problem. The bigger you are, the less direct connection you will have with your customers.
NE: So what you are saying between the lines is that maybe Wild Peeta is more authentic?
TD: Yeah, they definitely come across as more authentic and as hey, we really care about
our customers. Thats what Im getting from their attitude - which is good.