Sept. 21, 2017

This is definitely an "opinion piece" and as a journalist I don't do this much. But honestly, something is really bugging me and I'm wondering whether it bugs restaurateurs also. 

Here it is: All these made-up national food-related marketing holidays.

Like a lot of reporters, I abhor these things because every time one is dreamed up and added to some "marketing event" calendar somewhere, marketing pros think they have to build events and specials around them. Hence, we get things like today's National Pepperoni Day, which has chains that include Domino's, Chuck E. Cheese and many others running specials. 

And here's the part I really hate: I have to write about them. That means space on web pages and time from readers like you. That's space and time that could be used to cover legitimate news about this constantly changing pizza restaurant business. There is no shortage of subject matter on that.

Granted, these manufactured holidays do give restaurateurs reasons for special promotions, and special promotions can drive traffic. But creativity is overflowing in the restaurant industry and these manufactured food-of-the-day celebrations might actually work against a restaurateur or chain marketing department striving to develop their own brand-synced events for specials and promotions likely to be even more effective. 

Instead, event calendars and food-of-the-week celebrations such as these offer an easy, but far less enjoyable, route to promotion. No brainstorming required; just look at the calendar to see what event somebody else somewhere invented that all our competitors are also doing and go with that. The promotion does not stand out. It does not sync with the restaurant's identity. But it does bring in some business, so no harm done.

You might say that these types of manufactured events become something like the promotional equivalent of junk mail. Cheap. Easy. Not much invested. Make a little money. Move on. But, in this hypercompetitive business, isn't it worth considering something a little more thoughtful, creative and targeted to the customers, locations, branding and everything else that differentiates your restaurant from every other restaurant on the planet?   

As a journalist responsible for a news product, I certainly feel that way. I mean, seriously, how many operators actually really care that the brand is using this fabricated celebration of a spicy Italian sausage to push a special on its one-topping, extra-large pizzas? 

But I still have to write about it because the trickle-down theory of news coverage has created this obligatory game of push-the-story-down-the-food-chain that goes like this: 

  1. Publishing business creates calendar of food-of-the-day holidays and sells it to food-related marketing departments worldwide.
  2. Bosses at food-related marketing departments tell their managers, who instruct their underlings to create specials to celebrate these artificial holidays and write press releases about them . 
  3. Press releases end up in a journalist's inboxes and the inboxes of countless competing news organizations that feel an obligation publish stories about the made-up food-of-the-day holiday. 
  4. Journalists must write another story about a made-up food-of-the-day holiday.

And on and on and on. 

I say stop the madness. And I'm guessing more than a few restaurateurs out there feel the same way.

In this fascinating industry, I have tons of real news to cover — none of it involving manufactured promotional events. I would much prefer to write about the latest trend research or new sources of revenue streams for pizza restaurateurs, and I am fairly sure this is news that readers of Pizza Marketplace would prefer to read. 

So then, who out there in restaurant-land is with me? Let's just say "No!" to made-up holidays. And then, we can all celebrate our righteous win by eating a pizza topped with pepperoni — or whatever the heck other topping happens to strike our fancy on a marketing magician's made-up national holiday.

Photo: iStock


Topics: Pizza Sauce


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