Darden serving up launch effort for Seasons 52 chain

ORLANDO, FL: Darden Restaurants has launched a media relations and community outreach campaign to promote its newest restaurant concept, Seasons 52.

ORLANDO, FL: Darden Restaurants has launched a media relations and community outreach campaign to promote its newest restaurant concept, Seasons 52.

The new concept, which opened its first restaurant in Orlando last week, features fresh ingredients and an extensive wine list.

Darden, which also operates the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, is positioning Seasons 52 as a "casual sophisticated" restaurant, explained Deborah Robison, PR manager for Darden. The casual segment of the restaurant business is growing as consumers move up and away from fast food.

Seasons 52, with entrees in the $8-$20 price range, is a step beyond traditional casual dining. Aging baby boomers concerned about their health are the target market.

Robison has held a media luncheon for local print and TV food writers at the new restaurant. She has also planned three nights of invitation-only events for key influencers from the business, the arts, health, and fitness realms. Roughly 1,000 people were invited to those events, with the expectation they would create favorable word of mouth for the new restaurant.

"The positioning, the emphasis, is on freshness - on great-tasting food," Robison said, adding that the menu will change on a weekly basis.

Initial PR efforts will stress the freshness of the ingredients used for the dishes, but will steer clear of making health claims or talking about health issues in general, Robison said.

The next step of Seasons 52's PR campaign will involve reaching out to community groups and local charities.

Darden is handling PR for the new restaurant internally with its 50-person corporate affairs department.

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