National Restaurant Association mounts a campaign to pull dine-in customers back

The new multimedia ad campaign aims to whet pent-up demand while also reassuring the public of restaurants’ safety.
Photograph: TONL

The National Restaurant Association is launching a multimedia ad campaign aimed at drawing consumers back into restaurant dining rooms for the sights, sounds and experiences that only a dine-in experience provides.

The 30- and 60-second initial spots combine an appeal to the senses—food sizzling, plates clanking, drinks being poured—with subtle reminders of the safety measures that are being taken to protect guests.  The rapid-fire depictions of typical restaurant scenes show employees wearing masks and gloves and wiping down chairs. The only spoken words are a cook yelling, “Order up!”

The ads are themed, “Doesn’t dining out sound good?” The association indicated that they will be shown nationally.

“This campaign is about reigniting the memories we cherish about dining out,” Tom Bene, CEO of the association, said in a statement. “While diners have been able to enjoy some restaurant meals through take-out and delivery, we all have missed hearing the words, ‘Your table is ready,’ and the unique experiences that dining out provides.”

The ads make a visceral appeal to diners’ pent-up demand. They dovetail with an earlier-announced program aimed at reassuring consumers that dining out is safe, the ServSafe Dining Commitment. Restaurant operators are being urged to pledge their compliance with the safety measures recommended by health officials. Those that agree are provided with ServSafe Dining Commitment decals they can prominently display as a public reassurance that the right protocols are being followed.

Both programs are intended to lessen the sales drop-off that began when a pandemic was declared and states directed restaurants to shut their dining rooms to slow the spread of coronavirus. The National Restaurant Association has projected that the industry will lose $240 billion in sales because of the crisis.

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