Feed It Forward promo issues $3M in free gift certificates

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS Ill. Nearly 300,000 free $10 restaurant gift certificates good at thousands of establishments nationwide were distributed among friends, family members and business associates during the first 12 days of a 30-day “Feed It Forward” promotion, according to organizer Restaurant.com.

The approximately $3 million in certificates distributed as of Dec. 7 were sent via e-mail by visitors to http://www.restaurant.com/FeedItForward [2]. Those Feed It Forward users may send the free $10 certificates to up to three people per day during each of the 30 days the promotion runs, or until $30 million in allocated certificates are used up, said promoters of the campaign.

“Restaurant.com is taking a very unique marketing approach with the Feed It Forward initiative,” said George McKerrow Jr., co-founder, president and chief executive of the 57-unit Ted’s Montana Grill chain, which is a sponsor of the promotion. “It’s great to know they’re thinking about ways to stimulate business."

The more than 5,000 restaurants participating in the promotion may set their own terms of redemption related to the number of certificates issued for their establishment, the minimum total purchase amount required to receive the discount, and the hours of discount availability. The idea is that each certificate can contribute a small profit from a table that might otherwise be empty, while creating a one-on-one marketing link with certificate users that will lead to additional non-discounted sales. Restaurateurs taking part are out the cost of making and serving the discounted food and beverages.

Restaurant.com is a gift certificate sales and online marketing services firm for restaurateurs that says it distributes certificates on behalf of, and provides services to, more than 9,000 restaurants nationwide.

Cary Chessick, chief executive of Restaurant.com, said Feed It Forward recognizes that restaurants play a critical role as community centers. Through the promotion, he said, “we want to contribute to the success of our restaurant partners during a time when so many restaurants are challenged.”

Restaurant.com sources said that to help consumers enjoy one of "the greatest gifts of all, the gift of giving," the company is waiving for Feed It Forward participants the $3 fee it typically charges people who order a $10 certificate.