Adventures in Marketing: The ‘Calorie Neutral’ Restaurant

Veteran food publicist and Restaurant Intelligence Agency founder Ellen Malloy thinks restaurants need to develop better PR plans by “owning” the stories behind their businesses, but many still use shameless stunts to stand out in a crowded field. For example, an otherwise respected new Brooklyn spot called Aska turned quite a few critics’ heads (and stomachs) by including a “pig’s blood cracker with seabuckthorn jam” on its menu.

Today AdAge reports on another high-class food brand powered by an even more ridiculous PR stunt: the “calorie-neutral” meal.

The London “restaurant” in question was in fact nothing more than a event–its kitchen only served diners for one night, and most of those in attendance were food bloggers, journalists and curious folk who read about it in event listings magazines. As the writer covering the event tells it, guests first drank green tea to “stimulate digestion” before being led into…a basement exercise room.

The following “body balance class” was a full 40-minute workout preceding a meal prepared entirely with the Miele brand steamer by award-winning chef Frederick Forster. The food was so low in calories that guests had already burned them all off ahead of time (and the chairs’ “vibrating pads” helped speed the process along). So yes, the purpose of the whole ordeal was to promote Miele products and the health benefits of steamed, not fried foods.

Creative? Yes. Effective? We’ll get back to you on that…