Restaurants once again have the opportunity to push their off-premises offerings on social media via TheGreatAmericanTakeout, an awareness campaign organized by Los Angeles-based ad agency High Wide & Handsome and a coalition of restaurant brands including California Pizza Kitchen, Panera, The Habit Restaurants, Inc., Torchy’s Tacos, and many others. Today, U.S. consumers are encouraged to place at least one delivery or pickup order with a participating restaurant as a way of showing support to businesses.
The idea behind the campaign, which started last week, is to use social media to drum up more awareness around how badly restaurants are struggling as states mandate dining room closures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“This is no longer about the survival of individual restaurants,” Russ Bendel, Habit Restaurants CEO, said in a statement about the original campaign last week. “It’s about the future of our industry. And time has run out. Together, we must act to support each other and our communities in unprecedented ways.”
Last week’s online event gave restaurant sales a much-needed boost, if only for a day, while #TheGreatAmericanTakeout was a trending topic on Twitter for much of the day.
Organizers said they would be pushing the campaign again this week and in subsequent weeks.
Whether that’s enough to measurably help restaurants while dining rooms remain closed will depend on how much consumers can be inspired to act when it comes to ordering meals. It’s one thing to generate likes and tweets on social media. Getting consumers to consistently spend on restaurant food each week at a time when layoffs are happening and we’re racing towards a recession might be difficult — though people with enough disposable income to afford said meals should definitely participate. There is also the question of how long the allure of the campaign will hold up over several weeks’ time. Participating restaurants could aid this by offering more incentives for takeout orders in the form of promotions (e.g., free dessert).
Takeout, in particular, is helpful to restaurants right now because they pay a much smaller commission fee (or none at all) per order, unlike delivery orders, where businesses often own third parties 30 percent of each transaction. And as one restaurant chain founder told me recently, it’s also a way for customers to tip the staff making the food, not just the folks driving it to your door.
Customers who order restaurant takeout or delivery today are encouraged to snap a picture of their meal and post it with #thegreatamericantakeout. More details can be found here.