Houston Restaurant Week steps up to ease hunger

Cleverley Stone, who covers food, wine, and dining on her talk radio show "The Cleverley Show" and as a Fox contributor, founded Houston Restaurant Weeks in 2003 to benefit the Houston Food Bank.

Client: Houston Restaurant Weeks (Houston)
Agency: FKM (Houston)
Campaign: Houston Restaurant Weeks 2011
Duration: June – October 2011

Cleverley Stone, who covers food, wine, and dining on her talk radio show “The Cleverley Show” and as a Fox contributor, founded Houston Restaurant Weeks (HRW) in 2003 to benefit the Houston Food Bank.

As a food bank volunteer, Stone came up with the idea to get Houston restaurants to offer three-course dinners for $35 and donate $5 for each sold. Some also offer $20 two-course lunches, donating $3 for each sold.

The program was officially extended this year to run the entire month of August (the name changed accordingly from “Houston Restaurant Week” to “Houston Restaurant Weeks”).

FKM began pro bono support in 2009.

“As the event grew, I couldn't do everything myself with the effectiveness we needed,” Stone explains.

“The tie to local restaurants and the food bank was a great fit,” says FKM senior brand development manager Allyson Goodloe.

Strategy
Goals were to increase media coverage by 30% over 2010 to expand awareness and drive 20% increases in both the number of diners served and donations.

A website, blogger relations, social media outreach, and print collateral also drove awareness.

Tactics
Pitching began in June. Targets included lifestyle magazines, community publications, and local event websites. Stone, food bank representatives, and representatives from participating restaurants gave interviews.

Stone notes Fox was “very supportive in giving air time.”

Messaging provided program details while stressing the mission to fight hunger and the reasonably priced fine dining opportunities. The team also emphasized that the name change reflected the program's growth and popularity.

Outreach drove traffic to HoustonRestaurantWeeks.com. Menus were posted there on July 15, and food bloggers were pitched that week.

Stone used her personal social media channels and Houston Restaurant Weeks' Facebook and Twitter pages to promote the campaign.

Collateral included cards that were distributed in restaurant check presenters and by the food bank, sponsors, and other organizations.

A July 31 kick-off party for restaurants and sponsors was held at sponsor Momentum Audi's showroom.

The total raised was revealed September 18 at a check presentation party at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, which contributed the largest donation.

Results
The program raised $800,000 cash, up 40% over 2010.

Since FKM began lending support, donations have increased dramatically– from $80,000 in 2008 to $240,000 in 2009 and $585,000 in 2010.

Stone attributes the increases to “good PR and branding,” noting the program hasn't changed.

Participating restaurants increased to142 from 133 in 2010. Diners increased 36% over 2010 to 161,000. About $6.8 million was generated for the restaurants.

Website page views topped 3.8 million (July 15 to August 31, 2011), up from 903,631 (July 19 to September 6, 2010).

Story placements increased 55% over 2010 to 410 in outlets including NYT.com, TexasMonthly.com, and Houston Chronicle.

Future
The agency will continue pro bono support.

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