I’ve posted once before about the show “Restaurant Impossible” on Food Network on Wednesday’s. My wife and I enjoy the show quite a bit. Cher Irvine is a little “much” sometimes, but the premise of the show combined with his personality really make it compelling TV. He is clearly a knowledgeable and well-respected chef, a combination of a fun, Marine-like, yet sensitive personality, and the show really is able to get into the psychology of running a business (restaurant) and show how things can spiral downward without the proper leadership. Chef does a great job of fixing things. He’s a great chef, too.
Each week, there is a really unique storyline embedded within the actual premise. It isn’t just “renowned chef shows up with builders and designers and transforms a restaurant that is in debt.” It digs a little deeper, and is about as close to reality TV as I will ever get. I’m not into reality TV, usually, but I’m into this.
So, I’m a fan.
BUT, the show needs to be careful because they are teetering on losing me. Why?
Of course, because of marketing. Like you would expect anything else on this blog.
In most of these episodes, I’d say about 75%, there is a brief segment on marketing. Restaurants are down on their luck and need to bring new people into the restaurant. They need marketing to do it. They need to tell people about it. They need to communicate that the restaurant is “new and better than ever” once Chef Irvine is done with it.
Yet, the marketing segments in the show are a complete and utter failure. I realize the show is not broadcast on the “Marketing Network” and that it is aired on the “Food Network.” Still, it is laughable at the way the show’s producers try and intertwine marketing into the show. It’s like they’re half-pregnant.
You’re either giving great marketing advice or you’re not. There’s no gray area.
Case in point: last night’s episode followed a failing restaurant in Maryland. They got to the “marketing” segment of the show. Why? Because the show had no foot traffic, no patrons, no nothing. They (rightfully) needed marketing to bring business in, bring revenues in. So what did they do?
They (including Chef Irvine) drove to a nearby neighborhood populated with a few families and a few kids, roughly an audience of about 35 I’d say, handed out free milkshakes to kids, with the whole scene culminating in a young girl standing up on a box and yelling to the rest of the 35 onlookers that they should really visit the new opening of the restaurant and the milkshakes are delicious.
Is there anything wrong with that? No, of course not. Does every failing business have a national TV network on hand to cover such events? No, of course not.
The other two nuggets of information in terms of marketing were: 1) do newspaper advertising; 2) do social media.
So, what do you do if you’re an actual business without a TV network behind you? Well, I’d have to talk to you more. But I can tell I would not 1) issue blanket statements saying to spend money advertising in newspapers and social media; and 2) simply pick a young girl from a nearby neighborhood to stand up and yell about your business.
My recommendation for the show? Either you take marketing completely out of the script, or you actually have an expert talk about it and implement it. Chef Irvine is not Marketer Irvine, and it is kind of a joke when their marketing plan is newspapers, social media and kids from a neighborhood standing up on a cardboard box and screaming as loud as they can.
Leave cooking and food to the experts, like Chef Irvine. Leave marketing to the experts, too. The show brings in builders and designers as the experts; why not marketers?
So, producers of the show, if you have nothing – and I mean nothing – to add in terms of marketing, don’t try and fit a square peg into a round hole. Just strike it from the script. OR, spend 10 minutes on it with a really well thought-out marketing mindset and someone – like your builder and designer – to actually talk about it knowledgeably. To do otherwise is negligent and leading businesses down the wrong path.