creative efforts from tgi friday’s are worth considering
Special events beverage programming once mostly meant tying in with a summer movie blockbuster, like one of the multiple James Bond extravaganzas, and whatever beer or spirit Bond was featured quaffing. But that sort of one-dimensional promotion doesn’t move many cases these days, which is why the creative efforts from TGI Friday’s is worth considering and why it took home the 2013 Vibe Vista Award for Best Special Event, Chain and Multi-Concept Restaurant.
During the summer of 2012, Friday’s launched their “Operation Tutti Frutti” Fresh Summer Drink Program to engage operators, excite their team members and of course to provide guests with premium and fresh offerings to meet growing demands for quality and value.
To do so, they added four new fruit forward cocktails – Tiki Torch, Blackberry LIT, Strawberry Rum Smash and Fresh Watermelon Mojito. The chain tied into various trends in developing the drinks, including making the Strawberry Rum Smash with Atlantico Platino Rum and engaging musical artist Enrique Iglesias, part-owner of Atlantico, in the program activation, including a surprise appearance at Friday’s bartending competition finals; posting on his Facebook page and Twitter about the program; and recording an internal video for Friday’s team Members thanking them for their support.
The other drinks included on-trend ideas and brands as well. The Tiki Torch was made with Avion Silver Tequila, triple sec, chipotle pineapple, lime juice, fresh pineapple, fresh lime, sweet & spicy salt rim; the Blackberry LIT (Long Island Tea) combined Smirnoff Vodka, Bacardi Rum, Bombay Gin, Chambord, triple sec, blackberries, fresh lemon, fresh housemade sour mix, and Sprite; and the Fresh Watermelon Mojito included Bacardi Rum, lime juice, fresh watermelon, agave, fresh mint, and fresh squeezed lime
To gauge success, Friday’s set the following goals: to increase overall beverage sales and rejuvenate spirit sales; to drive incremental sales; to increase trial of featured specialty cocktails; to drive premium spirit sales resulting in increased guest check averages; and to build upon Friday’s “Corner Bar Heritage” and make drinks from scratch by muddling fresh herbs and fruits for guests to see and smell.
Results were impressive; spirit sales accounted for 60 percent of overall beverage sales and were up 5 percent after the launch of the summer drink program. Approximately 700,000 specialty cocktails were sold during a 90-day period, with dining room sales/guest numbers up 8 percent.
Bolstering any restaurant program through social media is essential these days, so Friday’s used their corporate Facebook page, the Fridays.com website, email blasts and the Friday’s mobile app in addition to national press releases. Enrique Iglesias’ Facebook post encouraging his 30 million fans to visit a local Friday’s to try the new Strawberry Rum Smash, and Friday’s page of more than a million fans included an interactive “What Summer Drink Are You?” quiz where fans had the opportunity to take a personality quiz and based upon their answers, they were provided with the description of the specialty cocktail that most resembles who they are.
Without a well-trained team, the program would fall flat. So the chain provides detailed instructions prior to launching all beverage initiatives. Training tools included: a video, promotional training book, updates to the chain’s master recipe books, internal bartender and server coasters listing photos, ingredients, taste profile and “fun facts” about featured spirits. There were also in-store demos, on-line testing modules, and “Alley Rallies;” internal activity that engages servers and hosts with role play and talking points to aid team members with effective and informative communication with guests.
The results set the bar high for limited time beverage programming and for the type of promotion needed to make a big chain’s efforts work. Taking advantage of all tools available to promote and share is the new normal.
Don't forget to submit your nominations for the 2014 VIBE Vista Awards to see if you have a winning beverage program.
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