It’s Pinktober Time at Hard Rock
While it may have a tough rocker image, Hard Rock has a soft side, and is one casual dining company that’s made a name for itself promoting and supporting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For the past 11 years, Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock International’s 150 locations have led the way with the smart and enticing “Pinktober” promotions — a term that is now trademarked.. With an ever-evolving cocktail list and a focus on merchandise as well as food and pink drinks, the supplemental “Pinktober” menu truly offers something for everyone, and this year is no different.
Hard Rock worked closely with the Oregon Cherry Growers to develop a hybrid pink cherry used in all the 2010 “Pinktober” drinks. Ranging from $8.99 to $14.99, the cocktails are made with fresh berries, strawberries and watermelons, which give each drink its quintessential pink coloring. Cindy Busi, Hard Rock’s Worldwide Beverage Director, and her team test 10-20 drinks per year but only choose five or six for the final menu. In fact, if they’re successful enough, these drinks may find a permanent home on Hard Rock’s cocktail menu.
Included on this supplemental menu are five drinks such as the Tropical Ta Tas (Ciroc Coconut Vodka, Southern Comfort, Coco Real, fresh strawberry puree), the Pop Diva (SKYY Vodka, Cointreau, Finest Call Sweet & Sour Lite, Monin Watermelon Syrup, cranberry juice, Pop Rocks for garnish) and the alcohol-free Wildberry Smoothie (fresh bananas, Pina Colada mix, orange juice, Monin Wildberry Fruit Puree). Each of these drinks is served in a collectible glass. Hard Rock also offers a sweet treat to complement these flavorful drinks. Its Cookies ‘N’ Hope dessert is made with vanilla ice cream, which is placed between two freshly-baked Otis Spunkmeyer double chocolate cookies decorated with pink chocolate gems, sugar sprinkles and strawberry syrup.
Proceeds from these drink and dessert purchases go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, but Hard Rock also emphasizes the importance of donating money to local charities as well.
“People love to give back, but they also want to keep it close to home,” Busi says. In fact, Busi knows this cause touches many guests and employees alike -- “it pulls on the heartstrings of so many people” -- so all Hard Rock locations are encouraged to throw extra “Pinktober” events.
Busi believes that this philanthropic promotion continues to grow not only because of the Hard Rock’s drink offerings, but also because guests truly receive value from their purchase — a refreshing drink combined with a souvenir glass and a good cause certainly equals success. In fact, planning for this month takes a full calendar year, and every “Pinktober” October kicks off with a benefit concert, headlined by Melissa Etheridge, the official ambassador of the program for the past five years as well as a breast cancer survivor.
It’s not just smart, innovate drinks that take priority for Busi, but it’s also her team who makes the extra effort to make the Hard Rock stand out. The staff is savvy enough to know that guests love supporting a great cause, but by offering drinks that incorporate current trends as well as merchandising opportunities throughout the Café, there is no shortage of guests willing to order more to give back.
Through POS materials, social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and celebrity endorsements, “Pinktober” is something guests look forward to and a staple for the Hard Rock. Putting this together may take time and planning, but Busi makes it seem effortless, noting that at the Hard Rock “charity never tasted so good!”
Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, USA Today published an article in which the alcohol industry – suppliers, bars and restaurants – were criticized for presenting drink promotions that raise money for breast cancer awareness, research and support groups. Read my blog here. What do you think? Email me at [email protected]. Thanks! – Donna Hood Crecca, Publisher & Editorial Director.