September 27, 2009

False Advertising: When "free" means $20

Today, I headed to The Sunburnt Cow hoping to indulge in the enticing offer shown below. Ultimately, my most fruitful takeaway was an example of a food PR event went awry.

Know your limits. How many places can really put out free food all day long? Sunburnt Cow, you overshot your limits this time. Most people probably approached this event with wary, afraid that it was too good to be true. And oh, it was.

Use the word "free" with caution. This is New York City. Dog whistles don't even work as well as this honing signal.

Deliver what you promise. The advertisement of "Free Food All Day Long!" turned out not to be free, and the food ran out completely by 5pm.

Communicate a set standard of rules. If I can see the poster with the word "Free" mentioned twice, yet you tell me to fork over $20 for unlimited food and drinks, I have a right to call you out on it. After asking the manager and finding out that no drinks and a plate of food would be $10, I hardly consider that "free food all day long".

You are only human, but so are we. The goal of putting on a food event is to get your name out there and attract more customers, after all. After the mishap with the false advertising, receiving disdained looks from the staff is just adding insult on top of injury. I forgive you for wanting to profit, for having slight miscommunication, for even running short on food. I don't forgive you for shunning a potential future customer.

The worst part is that this happens quite often, usually at small venues due to disorganization. Word to the wise, only trust what a restaurant is willing to put on their website or spread out to the public. The point is not to avoid celebrations, but to just execute it well. The food was enjoyable, for the most part. I just left with a bitter taste in my mouth from the overall experience. That's fine, a cupcake will wash it all down.

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