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Christmas Sweater Marketing for Restaurants

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Christmas Sweater Marketing

In the restaurant and hospitality business, there’s always a need to keep things fresh and give customers one more reason to visit. Here are a few ideas on how to turn a holiday fad into a way to make the cash register ring. As marketing guru Seth Godin says: Your promotions have to be: “Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting.” In other words, as Godin puts it: “It’s a Purple Cow.”

The Purple Cow gets noticed! How about using Christmas sweaters as your purple cow?

The Ugly Sweater

It started out as a gag gift, but somehow it went mainstream. Ugly sweaters are everywhere. It’s now a multi-million-dollar industry. Heck, the guys at Tipsy Elves have sold more than $70 million dollars’ worth.

Using The Ugly Sweater To Boost Business

Maybe they bought it for a family gathering or work party, but now that they have that ugly sweater people are looking for a reason to wear it. Let’s give them one! Here are some ideas for restaurant and hospitality businesses to create promotions that will drive traffic to your location:

• Declare it “Ugly Sweater” day and offer a discount or free appetizer, etc. for anyone wearing an ugly Christmas sweater
• Run a promotion on social media soliciting pictures of people wearing their ugly Christmas sweater and using a specific hashtag with your name in it
• Offer Christmas favorites on your menu, like Gingerbread cookies or Pumpkin pie, that aren’t normally on the menu and offer them to those wearing ugly Christmas sweaters
• Create a “Homemade ugly Christmas sweater” promotion and give prizes or discounts to anyone that shows up wearing one.
• Carve out a week and create an individual theme for each day. For example, Red Christmas Sweaters on Monday, Green on Tuesday, Sweaters with ornaments on Wednesday, Sweaters with animals on Thursday, etc.
• Give out trophies to the ugliest sweater of the day winner
• Dress the staff in ugly holiday sweaters and let guests vote on the ugliest
• Maybe Santa makes an appearance on ugly sweater day and hands out random gifts to customers

It’s Not Just Ugly Sweaters

You can do similar promotions for any Holiday-themed sweater. Every one of these ideas will work just as well and may even broaden the reach.

Make Christmas Sweater Marketing Work For You

Take pictures of the sweaters you see and post them to social media to help draw attention to the promotion. Post a “Wall of Fame” at your store.
Make sure you let the local media know about your promotion. You never know when they may decide to give some publicity to you. You may even want to consider partnering with a radio station or community newspaper to promote your event.

After the holidays are over, it does not mean your promotional opportunities end. You might want to give out a discount for people for the next time they come into your establishment to encourage repeat business. Another idea might be to do a similar promotion in January. Call it a “Christmas in January” promotion, or a “One last chance to show off your holiday spirit” and use on these ideas after the new year begins.

Do It Yourself Christmas Sweater Marketing Ideas

Some restaurants make a few bucks on the side by selling logo merchandise. Consider creating your own Christmas sweater and making it for sale. Pillsbury has had a lot of success this year featuring their “Doughboy” mascot on sweaters. KFC did it last year with a “Christmas Colonel.” Taco Bell has its own sweater line with the tagline: “The answer is always tacos.” Chili’s sells a really, really ugly sweater and donates the profits to charity. If you don’t want to have to spend the money to buy inventory, there are a number of online retailers that will provide product in small quantities or on-demand.

Happy Holidays!

The best marketing is always in tune with what your customers and doing and thinking about. Let’s make this best holiday season ever.


Don is was the former Marketing Director for Benseron Hospitality. Prior roles included Founder/CEO of a software email automation startup, Digital Marketing Director for a Fortune 500 Financial Services company, and roles as Sr. Product Manager and Marketing Technology Manager. Don has spoken on conference stages for over a decade, and led workshops on Design Thinking, SEO, Mobile Marketing, Crowdsourcing, and chaired an Innovation competition.

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