Got Blue Chips? Great, Dinner’s On Smith & Wollensky

I’m a big fan of barter and have been turning to this ancient form of exchange more and more over the last year. Taken to its logical conclusion, a person could get by on very little money if his or her basic needs are met through barter. Right now, I’m bartering creative services for office space with one client, and copy for design in another instance. But I’d love to go much further with this model. For instance, I’d love to barter with New Season’s or Zupan’s (two high end grocery chains in Portland); I’d love to barter with our property manager for rent, or a rent reduction; I’d love to barter with a brewer and a wine maker; and so on.
Apparently, I’m far from the only one who sees value in barter. According to Ad Age, Smith & Wollensky in New York City is willing to trade their restaurant meals for shares of stock.

The chain, which does a significant chunk of its business with financial professionals and for corporate lunches, is keenly aware of its clientele’s evolving cash flow status — and its trickle-down effect on the service industry.
The ad, from agency Walrus, New York, puts it to the suits in appropriate tongue-in-cheek fashion: “This bonus season has taken an unexpected turn, with the large banks paying out their bonuses not in cash, but in company stock. Its effects on the local economy could be catastrophic, leaving large tracts of land in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard undeveloped, legions of real estate brokers, personal shoppers and pet psychiatrists unemployed and massive amounts of steak and lobster uneaten.”

Alan Stillman, founder of Smith & Wollensky, also founded TGIFriday’s in the 1970s with a $5,000 loan from his mother.
“Restaurant advertising is not very cutting-edge; I think that’s something that’s lacking for the entire genre,” Mr. Stillman said.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.