Frankie and Benny’s offers free food for turning in smartphones at the door

Family food chain Frankie and Benny’s has never been afraid of trying new things, as anyone who has received an impromptu Italian lesson in the restaurant’s toilets will attest. Now the chain is offering free food for children whose parents turn in their smartphones when they arrive in a bid to prompt conversation rather than mindless Instagram scrolling.

The ‘no phone campaign’ will run between 29 November to 7 December, though it may continue if it’s considered a success.

The question is why, and while the honest answer to that is most likely “PR”, the process the chain went through to get to the point where this could be considered a sound marketing move is at least interesting.

After surveying 1,500 parents and children, the restaurant found that 70% of kids wished their parents would spend less time on their phones. That raises an interesting question about the other 30% who presumably would prefer their parents to spend more time on their phones, but I digress.

In another question, 70% said they thought their parents prefered their handsets to them, which feels like the result of a leading question to me, but there we are. Apparently, 10% of children had attempted to hide a parent’s phone in a bid for attention at some point… or to put it another way, 90% hadn’t.

Anyway, for Frankie and Benny’s, the solution is a simple one: bribery. While they won’t force people to give up their phones at the door, those that do will find their kids eat free.

“We’ve found giving families the chance to part with their devices for a mere couple of hours is a great way to bring them closer and embrace family time,” the company said in a statement.

It may change its tune if the number of people sharing pictures of pizza, pasta and ribs on Instagram drops off a cliff, of course…

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