Viewpoints

Restaurants Score With Hot Summer Promotions

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There’s big news on the marketing front this summer, with clever food campaigns on themes ranging from nostalgia to sports.

No, I’m not referring to supermarkets, but rather restaurants. They’re hoping to attract customers at a time when middle-class Americans may be more willing to open their wallets for occasional indulgences, according to recent reporting by Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN.com), SN’s sister brand at Penton Media.

What are some of the promotions spotlighted in recent weeks by NRN? Operators including Dairy Queen and frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles are evoking bygone eras with blast-from-the-past flavors (one is Frosty Root Beer from 16 Handles). Meanwhile, McDonald’s, the official restaurant of the London Summer Olympics, plans a giant flagship unit in Olympic Park with state-of-the-art sustainability attributes.

Restaurants are no strangers to sports tie-ins, and other recent arrangements include Burger King partnering with soccer’s David Beckham and Dunkin’ Donuts with football’s Eli Manning.

However, one of the most clever summer sports-themed promotions is a new campaign from Boston Market, a chain that’s had its share of challenges over the years but is still working hard on the marketing front. As reported by NRN, the chain has declared itself the “Unofficial Sponsor of Summer” in a campaign that lasts through August.

Among this campaign’s elements, each of which kicks in for specified dates:

• Children 12 and under wearing a team uniform for any sport are entitled to a free dessert with any kid’s meal purchase.

• In a salute to the Tour de France, customers who arrive at the restaurant on a bicycle can receive a free individual meal with the purchase of another meal and drink.

• The chain will hold a special event with “one of extreme sports’ most notable athletes,” although Boston Market isn’t yet saying who it is.

This type of campaign, which also includes a separate sweepstakes, is worth a closer look. It embraces seasonal marketing through sports, and it’s family-oriented, relatively simple and highly interactive. There’s also a contest and lots of opportunity for producing buzz.

Supermarkets, of course, have their own sports tie-ins, such as NASCAR. I’m not suggesting they copy this program, but rather recognize how it touches most or all of the bases in attempting to engage customers. That’s an important takeaway, and touching bases is an especially appropriate pastime for summer.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Carol Angrisani

Carol Angrisani is an associate editor at Supermarket News. Along with covering the packaged goods beat, she also manages SN’s annual private-label and ethnic marketing supplements. Carol...
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