Silence is Golden—Especially If It’s a Silent Phone

silenced phones

If you’re willing to dress up like a cow on Chick-Fil-A’s “Cow Appreciation Day,” you can be assured you’ll be dining on a free entrée. On 7-Eleven’s “Free Slurpee Day,” you’ll quench your thirst without dipping into your wallet. If you traipse into any number of restaurants on your birthday, you’re almost certain to get a freebie of some type, from slice of cake to free meal.

These promotions make a lot of sense to me because they foster customer loyalty while serving as free publicity­—the type no TV, billboard or radio campaign can match.

Then there are promotional giveaways that do both of these and also make a difference in people’s lives. These seem especially worth celebrating.

For instance, Colorado’s Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area recently offered a free day on the mountain—roughly an $89 value—to anyone who showed up with at least one canned good. Monarch then turned around and gave the goods to some local food banks.  If someone showed up without a can in hand? No problem: Cash donations were accepted (of course), and the funds were channeled to the Boys and Girls Club. Can’t beat that!

But I recently caught a story that offered another, far more unusual giveaway—free food for putting away your smartphones.

Frankie & Benny’s, an Italian-American restaurant chain headquartered in London, is offering kids (under the age of 14) free meals if their parents put their phones in a restaurant-provided box, their children will get a free meal. While the chain is located only in the United Kingdom right now, and the challenge technically ended late last year, I’m hoping this promotions makes its way across the pond.

So, why target parents? Why not the kids? The restaurant chain decided to launch the “no-phone zone” promotion after their own survey found that 72% of children wished their parents spent less time on their phones, and 70% believed their parents enjoyed screen time more than they did.  Frankie & Benny’s stated they wanted to “celebrate family time,” which is good news for families everywhere. Focus on the Family has been a stalwart champion of fostering more (and better) family communication at meal times, so a promotion like this one gets us Focus-folk quite jazzed.

Hats off to Frankie & Benny’s. Next time my plane touches down at Heathrow, I’m dropping by. In the meantime, if you own (or work at) a restaurant, why not see if your establishment is interested in promoting healthier families via a similar promotion? And let’s all work to make our meal times at home a “no-phone zone.”

[If you know of a national restaurant chain that has a similar offer, let me know in the comments below.]

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Kendall Litzsinger More than 1 year ago
this is the most primitive and regressive thing i've read this week
B Evans More than 1 year ago
You can't have read very much, then.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the idea of more family time- it’s not about judgement and of course people can do what they want- I believe the message here is... communicate face to face and with the people you are present with - I think it’s a phenomenal idea and great for more family interactive time- great idea!

The comment below is So funny to me-  if you don’t like the concept- skip the free kids meal or don’t go- 
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
B Evans More than 1 year ago
Then encourage the franchise to extend the promotion to books, magazines, newspapers, etc. I agree they are just as distracting, so you raise a very good point of consideration.