U.K. Chains Focus on Community Efforts

Almost a year ago, when Technomic outlined key trends for U.K. restaurants in 2014, we expected a surge in brand campaigns communicating product quality and traceability, and marketing initiatives focusing on the use of British and Irish ingredients. We see the trend deriving from both the demand from consumers for information about the food they eat and the desire to support national and even local companies, rewarding those who are part of the community.

We’ve watched with interest McDonald’s “Here’s to What Matters” campaign. The most recent effort highlights the chain’s relationship with British and Irish farmers. The spot, which features a real-life farmer and his chickens that supply free-range eggs to McDonald’s, emphasises the trustworthiness and quality of the ingredients. The ad is part of a larger campaign created by Leo Burnett to promote the positive impact McDonald’s has had on customers, employees and communities in the U.K.

McDonald’s U.K. launched the first ad in in July, spotlighting Ronald McDonald House Charities. At the time, McDonald’s called the charity-focused campaign a significant change in how it talks about the brand’s goodwill initiatives, which also include giving out children’s books in Happy Meals and sourcing ingredients from local farmers. Future campaigns could focus on other McDonald’s activities that matter to its customers and employees, such as the brand’s support of community football initiatives.

McDonald’s is not the only restaurant chain promoting its efforts to be a good neighbour. A Subway U.K. franchisee in Burford partnered with a local school to help students develop their own sandwich recipes. Owner Erol Ayvaz and store manager Jason Bastic helped students pick the ingredients and create a name, design and packaging ideas for the sandwiches. The winning sandwich, Barbecue Heaven, will be offered as part of the Burford Subway menu during the summer. Ayvaz, who also owns the Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield Subway restaurants, may take the idea to other schools in the area to encourage kids to eat healthfully.

Another way to be neighbourly is to support the home team. Hungry Horse is doing that via a season ticket promotion for customers watching sporting events at the chains’ units. Customers who sign up for the season ticket will receive a free pint, 10% off selected drinks and the chance to win prizes in members-only competitions. Beyond the community support, the promotion aims to make frequent diners feel like they are part of the “inner circle,” in on something special that regular customers aren’t privy to.

Large restaurant chains may find it difficult to show they are impacting local communities, but the rewards of inclusive and neighbourly efforts include an emotional connection to the brand that lead to long-term success.

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Darren Tristano

Darren Tristano is President of Technomic Inc. Since 1993, he has led the development of Technomic’s Information Services division and directed multiple aspects of the firm’s operations.

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