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Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

I write a good bit about marketing and promotions in this space week after week, due in no small part to the reality that I am reliant on the public relations efforts of others to fill my column inches but also because I am the recipient (victim?) each week of dozens of missives crafted by well-paid flacks designed to “grab” me with measured doses of creativity, flair and salesmanship.

In that sense, I get grabbed all the time.

Last week I received a press package from Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, the national homemade ice cream parlor with two local outposts in High Point, concerning their latest PR stunt: an ice cream cone made from yellow and white gold and encrusted with 152.16 carats of diamonds worth $1 million. At first blush it seems a bit silly and a tremendous waste of precious jewels and metals. Second and third blush too. But after looking at it over and over again, I’ll be damned if I’m not craving a double scoop of cherry vanilla in a waffle cone. See! It works!

The High Point Bruster’s. by the way, will give your dog a free doggie sundae if you bring the little guy in.

Somewhat more practical is Caribou Coffee’s latest Coolerfest: free 12-ounce Northern Lite Coolers to all customers between 2 and 3 p.m. on the first day of summer, which falls on Thursday.

Giving away free stuff is always a popular move, whether it be cubed cheese, sliced meats or experimental menu items. But at Earth Fare they give away knowledge in their culinary series, which this week features lessons on couscous salad (Wednesday at noon), hot dips and spicy breads (Friday at 7 p.m.) and fruit parfait (Saturday at 2 p.m.).

The Press Wine Café is not quite as generous with their wares, charging $20 for a Wednesday tasting of new wines at 6:30 p.m. Make a reservation (seating is limited) at 336.333.1930.

But PR is more than just stunts and giveaways. Another time-honored technique is to design a festival or event around your product, like the folks at Slow Food Piedmont who, though they are small-time when it comes to flackery, still will hold their VeggieFest at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market on Saturday from 7 to 11:30 a.m. featuring prizes, live music and tastings.

The Flemings 100, a listing of 100 wines by the glass put out annually by Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar, is really just a fancy PR move, but it is not without value. There are millions of labels and vintages available in the world, and the experts from Flemings parse this down for their discriminating customers. Wait! There’s more! The high-end chain eatery is also sponsoring a contest, the winner of which will receive 100 bottles of wine selected by Director of Wine Marian Jansen. Enter at Flemings.com.

Finally, and with no fancy segue, downtown Greensboro can expect its own branch of the popular Winston-Salem dining spot 6th and Vine on Elm Street by early 2008. The restaurant, known for eclectic food and great wine, will take over the spot at 314 S. Elm St. that once housed Miller’s Furniture.

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