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Autumn 2019 - Editors welcome by James Hacon

With Christmas less than two months away it seems everyone has their head down focusing on delivering at this important time of year. We’ve been crazy busy planning for the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit in January, which we expect to be the best yet. We’ve got more than 60 speakers lined up for the conference over three days, with companies from across Europe taking part. To whet your appetite, companies contributing include Wagamama, Ogilvy, Lidl, Carluccio’s, The Restaurant Group, Dishoom, Honest Burger, Pizza Hut Restaurants, Stonegate Pub Company, Sushi Shop, Bill’s and Punch, to name a few. Tickets go on sale soon so be sure to watch this space.

Our campaign trackers have been trawling through many hundreds of promotional campaigns via social and email newsletters. We thought we’d start off by warning about the prolific overuse of free prosecco as an activation tool – one in eight brands we tracked this quarter used this offer in their email headline. The second-biggest messaging revolved around bottomless brunch, which we received more than 100 emails about in the same period!

Among the many mentions of autumn and seasonal menus, D&D London’s cause-related marketing promoting its initiatives for Cancer Awareness Month stood out, with the brand supporting cancer charities by adding £1 to guests’ bills and pulling off lots of proposition activations – from turning lattes pink and hosting pink pasta masterclasses to pink afternoon tea and boob buns.

I’ve long said there’s a blurring of edges between concepts, with almost every brand offering a burger of some kind. The latest fusion to catch our eye came from Barburrito, which launched a Katsu Barburrito, perhaps trying to improve trading with a little magic dust from Wagamama’s proposition.

In terms of brand partnerships, two-site Israeli brand The Good Egg worked with Virgin on the launch of its first flights to Tel Aviv, serving a special menu in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow. This is a great example of how emerging brands can hit the headlines with campaigns and initiatives.

On the innovation front, YO! revealed its new format – YO! Kitchen – at Westfield London, ditching the conveyor belt to focus on a more contemporary look and feel. Ahead of this big change the brand lined up its fan by changing its name to the longest of any brand, highlighting all the dishes it sells, perhaps to reduce the shock factor when it ditched “Sushi” from its branding.

On a wider note, Propel reported Public Health England’s announcement that the industry had reduced sugar in its dishes by 4.9%, which suggests the sector is taking note of consumers being more health aware than ever. The increase in “low” and “no” options continues to be at the forefront of NPD processes from everything we see. When you see mass-market brands such as Greggs owning the space, most recognise it’s time to jump on the train or risk getting left behind.

In this edition we feature articles on change management, marketing technologies, doing good, and creating iconic hotel spaces.