Food & Drink International - Fall 2017 - 42
Photo by Young & Laramore
>> Weird merchandise works well with a certain segment piques a millennial's (and oddballs of any generation's) interest.
and you lose what you gained. Those
Applebee's dolls? Dangerously close
to making sense. Fortunately, they're
kind of pervy. So now they're effectively weird again.
4. The Road
Food truck. You probably already
thought of it. Maybe you can afford
one or none. Still, what better way to
literally get your restaurant out among
the people in the summer. Surely at
least some of your menu fits in one - if
Olive Garden can do it (they focused
on breadsticks), you can too, if you
can afford it.
Nathan's still owns competitive eating - lots of restaurants try to get Joey
Chestnut and friends to make them as
famous, and they do get their time in
One local restaurant had such spicy
shrimp cocktail sauce, it added a new
spin on speed-eating: pain. It definitely makes the local news. Do you have
something fun for people to overeat?
McDonald's tried sponsoring South
food & drink international * fall 2017 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com
by Southwest a couple years ago.
That crowd wasn't really lovin' it,
especially when they made a public
relations stumble by expecting bands
to work for free, even though they're
practically the symbol of capitalism.
The next year they brought virtual
reality Happy Meals to paint - a little closer? Essentially, this just points
out that if you're going to sponsor a
party, make sure you're an appropriate host.
Chipotle went a different way -
they grew a festival from scratch.
"The CULTIVATE Food, Ideas and
Music Festival." It might sound suspiciously like "educational fun," something we learned in school to be wary
of, but still: Chipotle manages to book
enough eager bands that enough folks
turn out hoping for free burritos and it
works. Then they get to bring up all
6. Phone Addicts
Where are their eyes? Their eyes are
on their social media. Right now, most
of your customers are flicking through
their feeds. (They're called "feeds,"
for pity's sake.) Morton's once saw
a guy on Twitter drolly (and with no
real expectations) suggest they meet
him at the Newark airport with a
steak. They did it! Wow.
Similarly, Burger King's been great
about challenging digital conventions
- recently they activated everybody's
Google Home devices by directly addressing them from a brief ad
and asking the computer to read the
Whopper Wikipedia entry. Google
shut it down - similar to how Facebook shut them down awhile back
when they imaginatively challenged
people to "sacrifice" for a free Whopper by deleting ten people from their
friends list in exchange.
Why ask people to give up their
friends (and tell them they'd been
defriended for a burger)? Because
it's a stupidly mean thing to do. See
point no. 3 and the effectiveness
of weirdness. Facebook protested
that notifying people who had been
dropped might violate privacy. When
the game stopped being stupidly
mean, BK sensed that their audience
would lose interest. And they'd gotten all the attention they needed from
Advertising still works. But why
not try something else - it'll be your
own little summer vacation from media traffic.
Charlie Hopper, principal/writer
of ad agency Young & Laramore,
shares views on restaurant marketing at SellingEating.com, as well as
recently publish books "Nuggets,
Nibbles, Morsels, Crumbs: Selected
Restaurant Marketing Columns from
Food & Drink International," and
"Selling Eating: Restaurant Marketing
Beyond the Word Delicious." Hopper
is known for his unique and witty
perspective on food and restaurant
brands and is a regular contributor to
Food & Drink International.