April 01, 2019 12:03 PM
Choose an Earth Day promotion for your restaurant that fits your brand while also benefiting the environment. Photo: BNMK0819/Shutterstock)
by Meg C. Hall
Earth Day (April 22) is a great opportunity to show your community you care about the environment. While any business can give away a branded reusable lunch bag or water bottle, there are a more creative ways your restaurant can participate in Earth Day that have a real environmental impact.
First, a bit of advice from Rodger Roeser, CEO of marketing and PR firm The Eisen Agency: “Before embarking on any Earth Day tie-in, take a good look at your brand of restaurant to get a better handle on what type of promotion makes sense.”
Choosing a promotion that doesn’t fit with your brand can come across as hollow at best, “and can even hurt the brand if it’s viewed as a shameless tie-in,” Roeser said. For instance, a hamburger joint giving 10 percent off a salad or adding a tofu or veggie burger to their menu just for Earth Day will likely be seen as disingenuous. Make sure whatever promotion you choose is well thought out and relevant.
Earth Day is all about taking action, so experiential promotions that focus on giving back will typically go over better than simply giving out a discount, said Roeser. For instance, a higher-end restaurant could do a “Lights Low on Earth Day” candlelight dinner night. Not only does it create a romantic date setting, but you’ll be saving energy.
The guest of honor on Earth Day is Mother Nature herself, so find ways to use the natural world in your restaurant decor. Fresh-cut flowers are a nice touch, but also consider using live plants for your centerpieces.
Roeser suggested using seedlings from The Arbor Day Foundation to decorate your tables, Guests can even take the arrangement home after dinner to plant in their yard. Adding your restaurant logo to the planter makes for a good marketing opportunity.
Another easy Earth Day promotion is the “dine and donate” event. Donate a portion of your proceeds from April 22 to the environmental group of your choice. Many of these groups are willing to help promote your Earth Day event since more customers for you means more donations for them.
You can take a percentage off the top of your proceeds or focus on dishes that complement the group’s mission (or donate, say, 10 percent of proceeds on most menu items and 20 percent of sales on menu items with some relevance to the organization).
If you’re looking for a service project for your team, Earth Day is a great opportunity. You can extend it to the community and invite your customers and other locals to participate.
This is a particularly great opportunity for sports bar restaurants, who can play on the “teamwork” idea, said Roeser. You can have everyone wear their favorite team’s colors, or create your own project teams that compete for a discount on their meal or a free appetizer.
“Again, what’s better for your brand, 10 percent off Earth Day chicken wings or the fact that your sports bar cleaned up a nasty space and turned it into a baseball field for kids?” said Roeser.
Find a local foraging expert to provide ecotours to customers, suggests Alan Muskat, CEO of No Taste Like Home. (Photo: No Taste Like Home)
If you know of a local foraging expert, have them put on a forage-to-table event for Earth Day, suggested Alan Muskat, CEO of No Taste Like Home. Muskat provides ecotours and foraging expeditions in the Asheville, North Carolina area and partners with six area restaurants that will take customer’s “found edibles” and turn them into a delicious wild appetizer.
“Expert guides lead participants collecting edible wild plants, mushrooms and more,” said Muskat. “That evening, the restaurant prepares guests’ very own ‘catch of the day.’ We call it ‘find dining.’”
For restaurant owners, a forage-to-table event is a great way to educate patrons on your area’s natural resources and provide a way for guests to actively participate in Earth Day.
Environmental awareness shouldn’t be limited to one day a year. Consider ways your restaurant can cut down on waste throughout the year — using 100 percent recycled paper products, composting food waste, recycling and more, said Roeser. Donate your used cooking oil to a biofuel company or use your coffee grounds to fertilize your restaurant’s flower beds.
“Then, on Earth Day, celebrate what you did in the last year on coasters, posters and social media,” he said. “The bottom line is to think long term about your brand and how you want to communicate your values, which is best done via experiential opportunities rather than short-term and often brand-hurting promotions.”