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How Radio Helped Local Restaurants Weather The Pandemic.

The good times weren’t exactly rolling for Good Times Restaurants after the pandemic hit last spring. The Colorado-based chain of 34 stores, which mainly focused on drive-through traffic even before the lockdowns, suffered double-digit sales drops in the last two weeks of March 2020. But with a little help from its radio partners, the chain reversed the slide within a month and began out-performing prior year results.

When the client’s ad agency approached Bonneville’s Denver cluster early in the pandemic, it was looking to enhance its current ad campaign and increase frequency to make up for listening declines. Sales worked closely with programming to align the chain with high profile promotional features that were being added to the stations’ programming due to the pandemic.

Country KYGO (98.5) created a live concert series branded as “KYGO Amphitheater” that ran on Friday nights. Made up of live sets from different artists or a complete concert from big acts like Old Dominion, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and George Strait, Good Times became the program’s title sponsor. “People were looking for new and different things for entertainment and these concerts were sexy and had the sizzle with big artists,” Heather Michelotti, Account Executive at Bonneville’s Denver stations, said during “Radio Works For Restaurants,” a live streaming session this week presented by the Radio Advertising Bureau. “They kind of became appointment radio.”

The 4-week package included on-air promos for the series with tags promoting Good Times drive-through options, along with a slew of jock mentions, presence in all social media and enewsletters used to promote the concert series, along with 15 additional primetime spots per week.

Meanwhile at AC KOSI (101.1), Good Times became the title sponsor of Feel Good Fridays. The segment, which aired in the “Jenny and Jay Morning Show,” involved listeners calling in or posting on social media a salute to family and friends who were essential and front-line workers. The 8-week program included jock mentions, social and online promotion, food drops to the morning show, and 15 additional spots.

“The listeners really responded and interacted with these features and the client was really happy with the added frequency and high profile sponsorships on our stations,” Michelotti said.

The result: By the final week of April, the chain was doing business that was 9% higher than the same period in 2019, according to the Denver Business Journal. “They really made the most of the way their business was structured and I hope to think that we were a part of that. Our PDs worked hard to come up with some great ideas to help keep them open,” said Michelotti.

Meanwhile, SummitMedia’s Omaha cluster tapped into the RAB’ GoCart program to put together a comprehensive program targeting local and franchise businesses that turned the stations’ unsold and trade inventory into cash. The program involved a special radio-only offer made through the Omaha stations where listeners could buy a family meal package through the station for half-price.

“They were really able to gauge that radio was still working for them,” said Nathan James, Digital Content Manager for SummitMedia’s five Omaha stations. “It was a huge win for an AE that was trying to keep this business on the air that normally has an annual that was getting ready to try and pull that. So we offered them a new marketing opportunity that didn't increase their spend at all.”

When an upscale seafood restaurant needed to pivot due to a dramatic decline in on premise dining, SummitMedia created a comprehensive campaign that focused on the burgers and bar food offered by the sports bar within the restaurant. The special offer sold out three times in a four-month period, according to James.

The campaigns involved no-charge up fronts to advertisers, where each station runs a set amount of recorded promos, along with live liners, social media posts, email blasts and website takeovers that lead to the page for customers to purchase the offer.

The results: SummitMedia’s Omaha stations sold out 16 different restaurant offers.“It turned our open inventory into actual cash for our cluster’s stations,” said James.

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