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Food Fight! Promotions in Good Taste

Feed Someone Well and They'll Remember You Forever

I’m not sure if coming home and finding no dinner has anything to do with this article, but I suspect my growling stomach has reminded me of a few ways to have fun and generate profits from food promotions on the radio and online.

From giving away candy to selling certificates for restaurants, you’ve got quite a menu to choose from when it comes to engaging your listeners’ imagination and palate.

Is there a radio personality in your market who has a sandwich named after him? While it may be old fashioned, it’s still cool to have a sandwich, salad or dessert named in honor of a celebrity.

And that’s the key: When a restaurant names a dish after you, it’s not just because you’re a radio personality; you are a celebrity who transcends the medium.

Lollipop by How do you make this happen for someone on your staff? For starters, they do already have to be wildly popular. If you have that level of personality on staff, find out where they like to eat and determine if they know the manager or owner. If they already have that personal relationship, often the next step to getting that name on the menu is a simple conversation between you and the decision maker. When needed, offer reciprocal promotion. They name the sandwich after your morning guy; you run promos about a special on the sandwich for a few weeks, with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity.

Next, let’s move on to a free lunch.

If you’re not giving away a free lunch to an office at least once a week, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to make new friends and influence potential listeners.

Even if you don’t have a lunchtime on-air feature where this would fit perfectly, you can still air a contest during which listeners e-mail you reasons their office deserves to be your Free Lunch Office of the Week. You’ll get lots of humorous reasons you can read on-air and post on the Web. It’s important that one of your DJs arrive with the food to thank that specific office for listening.

Feed someone well and they’ll remember you forever.


It’s fairly common these days to see radio stations selling discounted restaurant certificates via their Web sites.

Here’s how it works: The establishment gives you certificates for free, then you sell them for half-price to the consumer. The restaurant gets free on-air and online promotion and new customers.

Want a new twist? Turn this into Half-Price Club, where members pay a reduced monthly fee and receive dinner for two at a different place each month (12 times a year). Inevitably when you run this program you will have leftovers (pardon the pun), which can be used for club members.

Canned food drives are one my favorite promotions because of the simplicity of execution and the benefit of collecting something that is vital to needy citizens. Whether you’re trying to fill up an entire truck, van, studio or store, be sure to set a goal you feel is attainable and then keep your audience up-to-date during the process.

Contact the nearest food bank before you begin collection as they likely have other avenues to help you pre-promote the drive and reach beyond your usual audience.

It’s not that expensive to give away someone’s weight in candy as a prize right before a holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s), but I’ve heard it done only once.

Copy: “We’d like to give you your weight in gold, but the stock market took its toll all around this year… so, how about a sweet year instead? WXXX awards your weight in candy! Enter at our Web site and tell us the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for you. In fact, if we think it’s that sweet, you and your sweet friend both win!”

Arthur Carlson once said, “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys can fly!” They may not fly, but they do roll. If you’ve never tried bowling with turkeys at your local bowling alley, you haven’t really bowled for fun. The admission fee goes to a soup kitchen and your Turkey Bowl gets the attention you crave.

As for cravings … oops, it was my night to cook dinner.

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact him at [email protected]