Random House Turns Children's Menus Into Mobile Marketing Tools

QR codes on kid's menus will bring targeted advertising to restaurants

Somehow, the American family restaurant has become ground zero of the digital marketing revolution. Remember the days when a kid’s menu came with a pack of crayons included entertaining word scrambles, a maze, and some pictures to color in? Thanks to two companies called Kids Menu Marketing and Random House, those days are no more.

Instead, in more than 130 restaurants, kids will now be handed children’s menus featuring activities designed to advertise Random House content — specifically its picture book, Wild About Books. And on the back, three QR codes will let kids scan into a mobile app for videos, info about the book, and an interactive portion of the book. 

It was only a matter of time before Random House came up with a mobile strategy like this. Kids glued to their smartphones at the dinner table are, like it or not, a common sight at family restaurants. And kids are often more in-the-know than their parents when it comes to digital media like QR codes, so it’s smart for companies to capitalize on that tech enthusiasm.

"Parents are happy because the kids have something to do while they are waiting for their food," said Mike Stone, senior vice president of sales at Kids Menu Marketing in Lake Worth, Fla., in a press release.

Kids Menu Marketing will distribute 51,000 of these Random House-sponsored menus a month for three months, in restaurant locations for chains like T.G.I. Friday’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Hurricane Grill and Wings. The locations are located in 13 states, including Florida, New York, Virginia, California, and Delaware. Random House pays for the printing of the menus, and Kids Menu Marketing distributes them to restaurants for free.

QR codes are being increasingly used in print and billboard advertising, but it remains to be seen whether the strategy will take off on restaurant menus nationwide.