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Some of the best marketing strategies aren’t overt attempts at attaining customers – they are activities that engage guests with things they enjoy.

We’ve discussed some types of community marketing before, including how teaming up with other local businesses can help cross-promotion opportunities while reinvigorating the spirit of community.

Today, we are going to discuss viewing parties as a form of community marketing. Viewing parties can be thrown in any restaurant or bar that has a television or a large projector screen. You can use social media, email or in-store promotions to inform your guests about the viewing party ahead of time.

Viewing parties are particularly inspired this time of year because of popular television programs. For instance, this past August marked the beginning of the end for AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad, which also won an Emmy this week. The series’ highly anticipated final eight episodes have received critical acclaim while providing a great catalyst for viewing parties.

Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town is prepared for September 29, the evening the Breaking Bad series finale airs. Since Breaking Bad takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico there’s clearly a hometown connection and this viewing party is embracing that.

As the Facebook post says:

The curtain will soon be drawn for Breaking Bad, the show that put Albuquerque on the map. In honor of the end, Yelp, Breaking Bad Locations, Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town and QBar Casa Esencia will be hosting the season finale watch party.

Celebrate the final episodes Heisenberg style.

General admission is free and open to everyone. Special VIP seating in QBar is available for $10 per ticket.

Only a little less than a week to go before the Breaking Bad series finale and there are already 77 guests who have accepted to invitation to attend the viewing party.

Cinespia is also throwing a Breaking Bad viewing party, but this one is in a more unique location – a graveyard. This screening is at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and will have cast and crew members in attendance. All the proceeds are going to The Kind Campaign Charity, an international movement to combat the effects of bullying. This event is already sold out.

And Latitude 39 in Indianapolis has a whole menu catered to the Breaking Bad finale.


Let’s not forget about Dexter, another popular show that ended this past Sunday. The Spider House in Austin, Texas would hold viewing parties for the show Dexter throughout the season. Each Sunday the establishment would play the previous week’s episode prior to the airing of the newest episode. This way guests could catch up if they were behind in their viewing, and it would get people into the restaurant earlier, perhaps for dinner. After dining, their guests could indulge themselves on Dexter-themed cocktails.

And what about LOST? For three bucks, The Bagdad Theater and Pub in Portland, Oregon hosted viewing parties  on their big screen every Wednesday.

Or maybe just throwing your menu a little themed love, like jmCurley in Boston:

Want to set up your own viewing parties?

If you do, you have some options. It’s a good idea to focus your efforts on season or series finales because they are highly anticipated events. Of course, this would limit your opportunities.

Hosting weekly events for popular TV shows is another good idea. This way interested guests will recognize the consistency of your viewing parties.

Movies are another suggestion. Hosting a themed movie night monthly or even weekly will appeal to the movie-going crowd.

Additionally, sporting events can become consistent viewing parties and they will likely be well attended if you have local professional sports teams. McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon in San Diego, California hosts viewing events for San Francisco 49ers fans. The restaurant airs each game live on a variety of HD-TVs and plays the audio throughout the location. They also offer specials during this time.

If you’re now convinced that a viewing party is a good event to host at your restaurant or bar, consider viewing parties for:

  • Holiday specials. Halloween is right around the corner – scary movie marathon, anyone? Or you can wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas – two holidays with relevant movies.
  • Major League Baseball’s playoffs and World Series.
  • NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Have you ever sponsored a viewing party at your restaurant? Please share your experience with us!

PS: If you have the ability and desire, try putting together a Breaking Bad viewing party for the series final on Sunday, September 29… There’s still time!

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.