Eddie Andre of Grillo’s Pickles: Five Ways To Leverage Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
We get messages from A list celebrities, pro athletes, musicians, designers and people who just LOVE pickles. Treating them all the same is what we do. We give EVERYONE special treatment. The way you respond to someone on IG is how they’re going to view you as a brand ongoing. Keeping it real and having solid customer service is something that has always been very important to us as a brand. The return of a repeat customer and loyal brand enthusiast is priceless.
As a part of our series about How To Leverage Instagram To Grow Your Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eddie Andre.
Eddie Andre has been with Grillo’s Pickles as the company’s first employee and worked the pickle cart selling 2 spears for $1 in downtown Boston. After over a decade of helping Grillo’s Pickles grow into the #2 refrigerated pickle companies in the country, he now is the Head of Brand Experience and leads lifestyle collaborations and product innovation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was graduating from highschool in 2009 and got introduced to Travis Grillo through a mutual friend. I was playing in bands at the time and was looking for a flexible job so when I heard about this new pickle company that was starting it seemed like a no brainer. I became the first employee of the company selling 2 spears for $1 in the downtown Boston Common. After a few months we started getting a cult-like following and even got written up in the Boston Globe. That’s when Whole Foods found us. From that day on we decided to try and make Grillo’s Pickles the biggest pickle brand in the country. I’ve seen the company from just a small pickle cart selling pickles on the streets to now a national brand sold in over 12k retailers and have done major collaborations with brands like Ewing, Urban Outfitters and designers like Anwar Carrots, and Dee and Ricky. When it comes to Grillo’s I’ve done just about anything from working the pickle cart and sampling events to leading a 75 person ambassador program across the country and having sales meetings with major retailers such as Whole Foods, Kroger and Ahold.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Some of my favorite memories of Grillo’s is when we would pull up to NYC for the Lower East Side Pickle fest on Orchard St between Delancy and E. Houston. We attended that festival every year for 6 years up until covid hit and it’s always been some of the best memories for me as a person but also as a brand. It was such a fun time, setting up our booth and being the loudest brand on the block. We’d bring megaphones and blast music, and every year, would sell out of all our products, gear and custom pickle jerseys. From this, we have met celebrities like Quest Love and Kate McKinnon at our booth, and even made friendships that have become some of my best friends to this day. The atmosphere and energy that Grillo’s brings to pickles is unmatched and that was when we really saw the hustle and passion, come to life. Some notable collaborations we’ve done at the Lower East Side Pickle Fest include Round Two NYC merch collab and limited collectable pickle jars, Lower East Side legend Mikey Likes It Ice Cream pickle flavored ice cream and Scarrs Pizza with a cubano pizza.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was probably when I threw away my car keys and van keys at an event at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) on accident. I was cleaning up and must’ve thrown them away during the process. I searched through the trash for a good 30 minutes before giving up. Not only did I throw away my personal car keys but I also threw away the keys to the van which was parked in a pay-by-the-hour parking lot. I had the pickle cart with me and had no way of getting the van out of the lot so the museum was kind enough to let me keep the pickle cart in the Museum overnight!! We are probably the only pickle company to have an overnight stay at a museum. The next day I had to call a locksmith to come to the parking lot and cut me a new key. I finally got the van, loaded up the pickle cart and then went to my car and had another locksmith cut me a new key for my car. Moral of the story, don’t throw your keys away while working an event.
Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. For the benefit of our readers, can you explain why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
Social media is always evolving and over the years, and some brands do it better than others. It can be challenging, but we let our fans do the talking and from that, get endless user generated content and cultivate strong relationships with our fans. We do our best to keep it as human as possible and talk to our community just like we did when we were selling on the streets. We want people to know that there’s a real person behind the screen that is enthusiastic about the brand and our fans, but we see this as a brand for everyone so want to make sure to keep the community feel.. As we’ve seen how social burn can happen to brands, what I’ve found works best for a brand like Grillo’s is to keep it as real as possible and don’t force things. We make pickles and we like to have fun and make people smile. Social media can be a great tool to reach out to people who you might not ever get the chance to meet in real life and connecting dots is something I love to do. We got a Grillo’s Gang forming and it’s all love!
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
Overall we lean heavily on Instagram as our main social media platform but the power of TikTok is real. Last year a video someone posted about how great our pickles were from Target and the following two weeks we had some of our highest sales ever at Target. It turns out the video went viral and because the person said “i got these at Target” that’s where the tiktokers went! Pretty wild how a trend, recipe or challenge can spark something so fast. I guess that’s why they pay the influencers big bucks! For us we’re lucky to have fans, influencers and celebrities that do it because they truly love our brand and product, which always feels good.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share five ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
Step 1- We get messages from A list celebrities, pro athletes, musicians, designers and people who just LOVE pickles. Treating them all the same is what we do. We give EVERYONE special treatment. The way you respond to someone on IG is how they’re going to view you as a brand ongoing. Keeping it real and having solid customer service is something that has always been very important to us as a brand. The return of a repeat customer and loyal brand enthusiast is priceless.
Step 2 — Maintain strong relationships and use IG as a tool. For us, using the connections we have to help drive awareness on IG, is a major way not only for us to get the word out and more eyes on our brand, but also a great way for us to generate authentic, craveable content. Whether it be through partnerships we have with chefs, skateboarders or merch collaborations, we want to show up where other brands in our space aren’t. If you can connect with someone on a personal level it gives them all the more reason to want to buy your product the next time they see it.
Step 3 — Give the people what they want. No one likes to be oversold or yelled at from all angles to check out their brand or product. It can get annoying and can give the wrong impression of who you are as a brand. For us, we let our fans have the mic and love sharing their experience with the brand in our stories and posts. IYKYK has been a popular tagline our fans use when talking about Grillo’s and sharing Grillo’s on IG. It happened organically and created this FOMO effect and we couldn’t be happier.
Step 4 — Every brand and page has their own identity so it can vary from account to account but for Grillo’s it’s all about standing out and doing things our own way. As a food brand content and messaging can get stale pretty fast. Our goal is to always remember where we came from and keep that same hustle and quality product at the forefront while creating a fun, pickle loving community.
Step 5 — If you’re doing IG ads, get creative with them and try to make it feel the complete opposite of an ad. The goal is to leave a lasting impression and spark curiosity. Be smart about who and where you’re targeting to get the best returns.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Small acts of kindness every day can change the world. You don’t need to do much, a simple smile can go a long way, you never know what people are going through. I’d like to see everyone do a small act of kindness everyday until treating people with kindness is normal.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I’d love to grab a coffee with artist Jasper Johns. He’s one of the greats and one of my all time favorite artists. I’d love to dive deeper into his thought process and hear stories about his early career and other legendary artists he came up with. I make art myself and have been heavily influenced by him. One day I hope to hang one of his pieces in my home!!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!