With new technologies such as cell phones and iPods increasingly disconnecting people around the world, Corner Bakery Café is inviting customers to ditch the gadgets and reconnect personally over coffee.

The bakery café chain introduced its Connect at the Corner promotion this week, offering free cups of coffee through Facebook and distributing free coffee mugs in its communities.

“We just wanted to find a way to help our guests reconnect with each other, with friends, and also give ourselves a chance to reconnect with them, too, personally,” says Diana Hovey, senior vice president of marketing for Corner Bakery.

“There’s a big difference between texting a smiley face to someone and actually sharing a cup of coffee across the table with them.”

The Connect at the Corner campaign includes two components. First, through April 26, fans of Corner Bakery can invite friends to “connect” on Facebook and receive a coupon for two free cups of coffee.

Second, Corner Bakery managers distributed thousands of coffee mugs in sets of two throughout their communities, encouraging them to use the mugs in their local Corner Bakery by offering a complimentary cup.

“Obviously, we have people coming in that might not have come in before because they’ve seen us on Facebook, they’ve connected with friends,” Hovey says. “It’s introducing a lot of new people to Corner Bakery.”

Hovey says it is important to promote a restaurant as not just a place for food and drink, but also as a social gathering spot.

“That neighborhood positioning is so important to us because we are that place where people gather for great food [and] a great cup of coffee,” she says. “It’s a big point of distinction for our brand.”

The Facebook component of Connect at the Corner, in its first two days online, earned the brand more than 700 new Facebook fans.

“One of the things we wanted to do is make sure that we’re able to engage in conversation, not only online, but in person,” Hovey says.

“So a lot of what we do is using Facebook to actually bring our fans into the cafes and enjoy the brand first-hand. It’s been very successful for us.”

By Sam Oches

Industry News, Marketing & Promotions