Making special events work to produce both enthusiasm for an operation among guests as well as profit for each unit is a tricky business. This year’s VIBE Vista award winner for best chain restaurant special event, Hard Rock Café, found a way to do both by trading on their international reputation. “Spreading the universal language of rock as well as driving traffic and building global brand awareness,” says the company proudly, they hosted a massive rock festival that coincided with the launch of their summer beverage program, aware that driving beverage sales and increasing commemorative glassware sales were a key component of the promotion rather than simply a minor aspect.
Built around the massive three day event and rock concert festival held in London, with about 80,000 fans attending daily, the festival kicked off the worldwide chain’s summer beverage program. Called ‘Hot Fun in the Summer,’ the program increased drink sales by about three percent and glassware sales by ten percent at the chain overall. To drive sales and awareness among staffers, Hard Rock funded an incentive program to award servers, bartenders and general managers, with prizes topping out at an all-expenses paid trip for two to the Hard Rock resort in Cancun, Mexico.
All the promoted drinks part of the summer beverage program were sold in new 12 ounce logo glasses, and included a range of flavors: Watermelon Sage Mojito (Bacardi, Finest Call Watermelon puree and muddled limes, mint and sage); and Pineapple and Coconut Mojito (Bacardi Coconut Rum, Coco Real, pineapple, mint, limes, pineapple juice and toasted coconut), are just two examples. The chain also featured Budweiser and Red Bull products in the promo.
At the event and at all units, the chain followed up with full-color recipe sheets to reinforce creation and presentation standards. At the London event itself, which featured Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Alabama Shakes and the Black Crowes, among others, 13,000 Mojitos using 6,000 limes were muddled and served, more than 18,000 bottles of beer and 1,300 bottles of spirits.
Few chains have such a built-in thematic edge, one that can attract so many potential customers. Even so, it’s always possible that such events may not achieve the goals a business sets. Judging by the results, especially of glassware sales, Hard Rock rocked out on this one.