The Shed at Dulwich - how to become TripAdvisor's no.1 restaurant without having a restaurant (7 min read)
The Shed at Dulwich - a spoof restaurant located in a garden shed in Dulwich, London.
Created as a hoax by journalist Oobah Butler for Vice magazine.
The restaurant became the top-rated place in London on TripAdvisor before the listing was taken down.
Strategy & Tools
- April 2017 - Oobah submitted his "restaurant" on the TripAdvisor via his new phone. He has also created a website.
- May 5th, 2017 - The Shed at Dulwich has been officially accepted and listed on the TripAdvisor.
- May 2017 - The restaurant ranked at 18,149 place in London.
- May - October 2017 - Oobah and his friends massively produced high quality, fake reviews.
- June 2017 - The Shed ranked under 10k place.
- August 2017 - The Shed ranked at 156th place, with 57 reviews.
- October 2017 - The Shed ranked at 30th place, with 83 reviews.
- November 1st, 2017 - The Shed at Dulwich ranked on the 1st place, with 96 reviews.
- After becoming the top-rated restaurant on the TripAdvisor, Oobah staged an opening night for the restaurant.
The website and the TripAdvisor's profile worked as piece of evidence for the restaurant to exist.
To avoid unwanted reservations, Oobah made it clear both on the website and on Tripadvisor that this is an appointment-only restaurant.
Images of a fine-looking meals provided an additional spark to the already established restaurant impression.
Hot spots are quirky.
Oobah wanted to make his restaurant silly enough to "infuriate your dad" and stand out. That's why he created a naming all of our dishes after the moods concept.
Fake it till you make it
Back in May 2017, Oobah and his friends started to produce fake TripAdvisor reviews for The Shed at Dulwich, in sufficient quantity, to place the venue among the top two thousand restaurants in London.
The hoax with The Shed worked, because it was plausible. Micro-restaurants were then a fashionable trend.
Due to the lack of real reviews from the customers, the restaurant attracted only a single review below 5 stars - it was a one-star review, possibly received from a rival.
When The Shed at Dulwich was reaching for the top spot on the TripAdvisor list, people started to fall into:
The tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same.
The increasing popularity of The Shed encouraged more people to "get on the bandwagon", and book the table.
The tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion
The Authority Bias worke, because:
- The Shed displayed testimonials from the "previous customers"
- TripAdvisor provided the badge of trust to The Shed
- TripAdvisor's high rankings from existing customers
Window of Opportunity
Find a loophole in a structure and pave your way to the top, to attract the attention of the media.
Oobah has invented his career upon this kind of gigs.
Just like in the TripAdvisor, Oobah found more loopholes in numerous places:
- TripAdvisor’s #1 Fake Restaurant
- Oobah sent fakes of himself to give a TV interviews around the world
- Oobah faked his way into Paris Fashion Week
People love to follow stories of the protagonists who outwit the huge corporations - e.g. Ocean's Eleven, Money Heist, Moneyball