- S.Pellegrino, the brand of mineral water owned by Nestlé Waters, this month is launching a "Destination Dining" series that will swap the signature dishes from famous restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles, per an announcement.
- The dishes will be available for one week for dine-in, takeout or delivery — however the restaurants are serving customers. S.Pellegrino plans to expand the program to other U.S. cities, and is asking people to offer suggestions on where to swap next on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #SupportRestaurants and #SPDestinationDining.
- Additionally, S.Pellegrino will support Relief Opportunities for all Restaurants (ROAR NY), a nonprofit that provides assistance to New York restaurant workers facing financial hardship. As the pandemic continues to hammer the restaurant and travel industries, the brand is giving diners a chance to "travel on the plate" instead of visiting in person.
S.Pellegrino's "Destination Dining" series is a novel experiential marketing program to promote restaurants that are a key source of revenue for the mineral water brand. By giving diners a chance to sample food from a restaurant 2,500 miles away, the marketer can drum up business for independent restaurants and generate excitement among consumers looking for an experience they can share on social media, especially as the pandemic continues to scuttle travel plans.
The first swap will between Frankies 457 Spuntino in New York and Jon & Vinny's in Los Angeles between Oct. 15-23, followed by Balaboosta in New York and Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles on Oct. 22-30. Diners can book reservations or order food for takeout or delivery by visiting each restaurant's website. S.Pellegrino will announce more restaurant pairings on a dedicated microsite and its social channels.
Before the pandemic, a growing number of brands were increasing their experiential marketing programs to engage consumers, especially younger adults who were elusive to traditional media. S.Pellegrino's campaign is one sign that experiential marketing is due for a comeback as stores, restaurants and public venues reopen, though personal safety remains a key concern for consumers and brands. S.Pellegrino's "Destination Dining" series can be effective at raising awareness and driving sales while also providing consumers with options to order food if they feel uncomfortable about dining out.
S.Pellegrino's campaign also includes a cause-driven element to raise awareness about the plight of restaurant workers during the pandemic. The campaign is more likely to appeal to younger consumers who want brands to show how they're helping others amid the crisis. Other brands have launched similar efforts, as seen with Cholula Hot Sauce's "Taco Tuesday" virtual event that celebrated Cinco de Mayo and raised money for the Independent Restaurant Coalition. AB InBev's Busch Light beer brand in March hosted a livestreamed trivia show on Facebook to solicit donations to the U.S. Bartenders Guild.
S.Pellegrino's experiential effort comes as the restaurant industry struggles to survive the pandemic, especially in COVID-19 hotspots like New York and Los Angeles that have enacted strict rules on eateries. As many as 50% of New York City bars and restaurants may close permanently in the next six months if conditions don't improve, according to a report by New York State's financial authority. One out of three restaurants in California may close permanently or downsize by shutting locations, a survey by the California Restaurant Association cited by CBSLA found.
California and New York aren't alone: Online review site Yelp reported that 62% of the more than 32,000 restaurant closures it has tracked nationwide are permanent. With "Destination Dining," S.Pellegrino looks to soften some of that blow while attaching its brand to a culinary offering that could provide a welcome distraction for foodies.