Successful holiday restaurant advertising

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McKee was particularly interested in Outback’s tie-in to its gift-card offer of a free $20 certificate with the purchase of $100 in gift cards.

“Outback does a gift card focus during other seasons, like for ‘dads and grads’ in early summer,” McKee said. “To see how well this tie-in works [for gift card sales] is another question, but that’s been something they’ve done consistently. They’ve tried to position their products in the context of the holidays, and mixing themes together can be risky, but it paid off here.”

RELATED: Restaurants expand gift card offerings

Boston Market, Denny’s and Golden Corral also deployed holiday-theme commercials recently, but McKee said those brands achieved Ace Scores at or below the industry norm because they either did not call out the season explicitly enough or their references to the holidays did not fit with longer-term branding strategies as seamlessly as they did for IHOP and Outback.

Boston Market garnered an Ace Score of 577 for its commercial advertising the Market Feast family meal. The ad referenced the season only with text reading, “Holiday catering available.”

Watch Boston Market’s commercial; story continues below

Denny’s advertised its Milk and Cookies Shake and Christmas Cookie Pancakes as part of its commercial tying in to the holiday movie “Arthur Christmas.” The spot earned an Ace Score of 556.

Watch Denny’s commercial; story continues below

Golden Corral’s reference to the season was tacked on at the end of a commercial promoting its new seafood station, in which the announcer invites viewers to throw their holiday parties in one of Golden Corral’s free party rooms. That ad garnered an Ace Score of 554.

Watch Golden Corral’s commercial

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN