Food For Thought - RMD Blog

Do Certifications Matter in the Restaurant/Food Service Category?

Do Certifications Matter in the Restaurant/Food Service Category?

Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine authored article by Sue Reninger

By Sue Reninger, Managing Partner and Client Brand Strategist

The food industry is independently unique, and today, consumers are more educated and thinking more critically than ever. In fact, many have begun asking whether the industry and the restaurants it encapsulates are doing their part to maintain the integrity guests so desperately desire.

Are we doing our part to lead guests to better, more healthful and more sustainable choices? Are we offering guests the food from our menus because we truly believe in its inherent good?

To best serve restaurant guests, today’s chefs and their menus need to reflect the restaurant as a brand, but also its mission and values, overall. For many, that means turning to the power of third-party certifications. Top certifications in the food world include, but are not limited to, a handful of the select elite:

USDA Organic: This relevant certification regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced.

Why this certification is important: A 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 55 percent of Americans believe that organic food is healthier than conventional. This is particularly true of organically grown fruits and vegetables. The market reached $43 billion in 2016, and a 2017 survey found that 82 percent of American homes stock organic food.

In considering certified organic ingredients versus foods simply labeled as ‘organic’, consider the fact that a certification requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and get inspected every year. This ultimately allows you to make an educated and informed choice for your restaurant.

Non-GMO Project Verified: The Non-GMO Project is an independent verifier of products made according to best practices for avoiding genetically modified organisms in the U.S. and Canada.

Why this certification is important: A non-GMO market insight report released by Mintel in February 2017 states 34 percent of Baby Boomers and 29 percent of Millennials surveyed avoid genetically modified foods in their diet, which supports the fact that this mindset spans generations. Research demonstrates today’s restaurant guests are actively seeking out non-GMO foods, and the ingredients on your menu can mirror their concern.

 Certified Gluten-Free: The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)is dedicated to providing certification services to producers of gluten-free products using quality assessment and control measures throughout production, in order to provide consumer assurance of the safety of their foods.

Why this certification is important: With rigorous standards ensuring no cross contamination, a Gluten-Free Certification oftentimes means you can cater to a still growing community of foodies. For guests not participating in an exclusively gluten-free diet, your commitment will help them perceive your restaurant as one that is both tolerant of these special dietary needs and inclusive of their friends and family who rely on a gluten-free diet.

 Certified Humane: Administered by independent nonprofit Humane Farm Animal Care, this program ensures that animals raised for dairy, lamb, poultry or beef products are treated humanely and with their welfare in mind.

Why this certification is important: Packaged Facts survey data from February through March 2017 show that 58 percent of U.S. consumers are more concerned about animal welfare than they were just a few years ago. This certification shows them you are listening, and even more, doing your part to support a sustainable food system.

Certified Vegan: Products Certified Vegan speak most prominently to a population of food lovers interested in vegan products. The certification ultimately aims to help vegans shop and eat with confidence. It also helps companies and restaurants recognize a growing vegan market and brings the word Vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.

Why this certification is important: While your restaurant does not need a certification to wear a vegan label, ensuring the ingredients you use on your menu have integrity behind them is important to restaurant-goers. Show them you align with their values and respect their need for complete transparency.

Above all, the certifications and conversations surrounding food should demonstrate to restaurant leaders the way guests view nutritional information is vastly different from what it once was, and what it will be in the years to come.

In reflecting upon whether your menu should showcase the trends and certifications that have frequently spotted the food industry, consider the restaurant’s authenticity through the guest’s eyes. If your menu no longer speaks to your core guest or aligns with their values, it won’t be long before your brand lags behind your competitive counterparts.

Today, third-party certifications can help affirm your restaurant’s commitment to transparency and authenticity. Furthermore, third-party certifiers can act as strong partners in bringing a menu and dining experience that match what you envision for your brand to reality. For brands especially focused on the up and coming generations of restaurant goers, certifications can help shape your image, convey the values your company stands for and, as a result, build loyalty.

This outward reflection of your restaurant’s internally stated morals is one avenue by which you can show shoppers you are committed to their wellbeing, while still boasting an impressive menu.


We Took AIM And Score With Three Wins

We Took AIM And Score With Three Wins

We are proud to have been recognized with three awards from the American Marketing Association’s annual AIM Awards, including Platinum PR Publishing Division for Graeter’s National Ice Cream Month, Gold PR Publishing Division for Graeter’s National Ice Cream Month and Gold Marketing Campaign for Southern Recipe’s Truck Driver Appreciation Week. These awards speak to RMD’s imaginative and innovative use of media, social media and online influencers to create successful and influential campaigns through both Graeter’s and Southern Recipe.

The AIM Awards recognize leaders and innovators in marketing, communications, graphic design, public relations and advertising throughout Columbus, Ohio. AMA, which judges and selects the AIM Awards Winners, is comprised of practitioners and academics, who share an interest in networking, learning and serving the community. The awards symbolize excellence in clear, concise communications, and AIM recipients represent marketing professionals, companies, nonprofit associations and institutions local to Columbus.       RMD/Southern Recipe AIM winner

“We were honored to have been recognized for the strategic work we did with the Graeter’s Ice Cream Month and Truck Driver Appreciation Week campaigns,” shares Sue Reninger, Managing Partner, Client Brand Strategist at RMD Advertising. “We love the AMA’s because we are so proud to be amongst marketers statewide and nationally who work to help their brands grow. For us, it is all about helping our clients reach a new level of distinction, growth and success.   RMD_Graeter's_AIM_Awards

Amidst hundreds of submissions, RMD’s entries for Southern Recipe’s annual Truck Driver Appreciation Week and Graeter’s Ice Cream Month campaigns were distinguished as leaders in their respective categories. Graeter’s Ice Cream Month campaign focused on utilizing National Ice Cream Month to generate sales and brand awareness through media, contests, giveaways, social media and online influencers. Meanwhile, Southern Recipe’s Truck Driver Appreciation Week campaign partnered with the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund to spread awareness of health problems truckers face and raise money for the charity through the use of a social media photo contest.

Grassroots Marketing Efforts Mean Expansion for Ohio-Based Nonprofit

Grassroots Marketing Efforts Mean Expansion for Ohio-Based Nonprofit

Ten years ago, RMD Advertising dreamed big. The agency’s team members took the first step in what would become the company’s largest charitable initiative. It all stemmed from a simple desire: to give their clients a holiday gift that would stand out from the typical corporate gift.   

So, the agency took the money earmarked for client gifts and bought 25 red wagons, filled each with food and distributed them throughout the community to local Columbus families in dire need during the holidays.

Wagons Ho Ho Ho began with that simple mission in mind. We’ve grown since that first year. Last year, our Wagoneers donated more than 8,000 pounds of food and built a total of 1,000 wagons. This year, we’ll call on the Central Ohio community to help us build and distribute 1,250 sturdy wagons – our largest initiative to date. But we’ll also fill each one with enough food to feed a family of four Christmas dinner. 1,250 wagons and enough food to feed 5,000 people … all assembled in one day. More than 600 volunteers make this possible.

How does one 501(c)3 organization mobilize a group of over 600 volunteers and inspire the Columbus community to donate enough nonperishable food to feed so many Ohioans in need? Powerful marketing, lean, targeted messaging, smart event marketing and word of mouth certainly play a critical role.

Marketing to the head and the heart

 Wagons Ho Ho Ho is an enormous responsibility, and without the support of our volunteers and the city of Columbus, it wouldn’t be possible. With strategic and targeted marketing efforts, our grassroots initiatives have fostered a giving and selfless community that has made Wagons Ho Ho Ho’s annual Build Day more than simply eight hours during which we assemble wagons.

Build Day is now an event that epitomizes the spirit of the holidays. It reminds volunteers that what they contribute is unique. On that day, the city’s local recreational center turns into Santa’s workshop and strangers work side-by-side, working towards one goal and becoming friends in the process.   

We’re proud of this accomplishment. We realize that providing a gift and a meal on Christmas is important, but what is really important to us is what each wagon represents to its recipients … hope. It’s our way of showing these children that there is a community of people who care about them during the biggest holiday of the year.

Each local radio interview, television segment, printed story and event Wagons Ho Ho Ho participates in is an opportunity to make an emotional connection with the next potential Wagoneer. While we share the harrowing facts of Ohio’s food insecurity and the daunting need of families in the area, we are also keenly aware of our story.

Marketing Wagons Ho Ho Ho as a brand has required us to approach each piece of content created as a vehicle for communicating our story, celebrating the people behind our strong but mighty nonprofit and our hopes for the future. By concentrating our media opportunities to the months leading up to the annual Build Day, we have been able to saturate the local airwaves with our story … and in return, have continued to inspire volunteers to proudly step forward and call themselves Wagoneers.

Our story:

Can a wagon really change a child’s life? We think so. And it takes just one voice to help a family know they have a supportive community of caring neighbors behind them.

Today, the face of the hunger has changed. 1 in 6 in Ohio experience food insecurity, meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from. These are your neighbors and your co-workers. Sometimes, it is a matter of having to sacrifice dinner one day a week. It may even mean having to choose between buying food or medicine for a sick child. If they are struggling to buy food, how can they buy Christmas gifts for their children?

On Build Day this Saturday, December 2nd, we’ll once again open the doors of a local recreation center and invite over 600 hard working Wagoneers to bag food, build wagons and send each delivery off with our dedicated distribution charity partners. With music, plenty of food and laughter filling each corner of the room, it’s plain to see – this is a special event not only for the recipients of the wagons but also for the builders themselves.

 Every volunteer who touches Wagons Ho Ho Ho, whether by donating food, funds or their time, is an important part of the Wagons team. Visit to learn more, and help to give a child HOPE for today and the future.

And the Mojo Award goes to ….

And the Mojo Award goes to ….

Each week, RMD Advertising honors a team member that has gone beyond the ‘call of duty’ – whether that’s uncovering a solution to a stubborn client service issue, a charitable act or simply a nice gesture toward another team member. This prestigious award is called the Mojo Award and it’s given during our Friday morning team meeting.

The big prize? The all powerful cup of coffee. I know what you may be thinking, a Starbucks card is no big deal. But it’s not just the hot cup of java that we’re giving … it’s the public attitude of gratitude for a being a great member of our team. This is something RMD is proud to be built upon.

RMDMojoAnd to that we say, that cup of coffee smells a lot like success. Congratulations Amanda for digging into SEO at yet ANOTHER level, asking critical questions and leading us to think in a whole new direction. You’re our Week 3 winner!
Donn Ditzhazy, Executive Director

3 Tips for Newbie Pinners

3 Tips for Newbie Pinners

RMD PinterestLast week we discussed why Pinterest is succeeding in business for its referral rates, consumer interest and targeted market segments. If you’re now considering leaping into this new social network for your company, we have a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Cite your sources.
Whether it’s a company name, url or @ mention. Give credit where credit is due.
2. Avoid self-promotion.
This is a tricky one for marketers looking to promote their clients or products on the platform. The main tip here, be genuine and participate in the community you’re seeking to engage.
3. Check, check & triple check your links.
A big faux pas would be to send your audience to a site or a spam-like link that sends them searching for the content you’ve recommended in the first place. Be responsible and then pin to your hearts content.
4. Collaborate.
Like any social network, interaction is key, but you don’t have to do it alone. Recruit your co-workers to start. Then you will be better equipped to engage consumers by both providing appealing content and sharing novel images or information shared by others.
5. Don’t be all business.
The Pinterest platform is playful and intriguing by nature, so try to mix business and pleasure on the site. Users want to see what is interesting to you and your company, not just pictures of what products you offer. What inspires you?

To bring all of your social media efforts full-circle, sync Pinterest with your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn presences. Add links to the images you share on Pinterest to your products or company website. Want help? That’s what we’re here for, give us a call.

Pinterest Board







– L. Spendiff

Keep it Simple and Made to Stick

Keep it Simple and Made to Stick

There’s something to be said about keeping it simple. The KISS concept is timeless. Sticking to what your brand represents and nothing more – that’s what Chip and Dan Heath emphasize in their book, Made To Stick. Don’t stray from your message or try to grab attention by making your product into something it is definitely not. A low-cost airline cannot sell luxury. If you sell the freshest red apples, don’t say they taste as good as ripe bananas. Reinforce what your product is and what it provides for your consumers.

Made to Stick BookI’m re-reading, or should I say re-listening to – the Heath brothers, this time with the creative team at RMD. The value in the second run through of this book is new perspective. As an agency, RMD is at a different place that it was the last time I read this, but the messages are just as fundamental for us, sometimes in new ways. I am asking different questions and reflecting on a new set of answers with my team.

Growing emerging food brands is the bread and butter of RMD. Year by year, we consistently improve because we never stop educating ourselves. If you stop learning, you start dying. And that’s the last thing you’ll find happening here.

-D. Ditzhazy, ECD

A Day in the Life of An RMD Intern: Week 4

A Day in the Life of An RMD Intern: Week 4

Experimental Marketing: Friend Your Consumer
Heather DeSantis

The environment of an advertising agency is fast paced, focusing on production & results. Add the focus of emerging food brands and you represent consumers that are constantly marketed through product placement and mass communication.   It is a priority for brands to be on the front line in national publications and TV segments because of the amount of people the advertisement will reach.

In addition, with the ability to use Social Media to market a product, companies are able to spend less money to reach more consumers.  Although, I believe that this is crucial due to the fact that every action of a company needs to have measurable results that are profitable I believe that consumer relations must not be forgotten. A number of ways that a company may create an interactive environment for consumers may include contests or supporting a community initiative. A concept that is often omitted is Experiential Marketing  a concept that AdventResults defines as:

“ Connecting audiences with the authentic nature of a brand through participation in personally relevant, credible and memorable encounters”.

A sobering experience was when I volunteered at such an event. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Celiac Awareness Tour to represent a brand that was gluten free. Before going I knew that the objective was to talk to consumers & to get as many people as we could to sign up for the newsletter. Yes, this was the bottom line but, the conversations that were had with consumers were worth more than any entry form received.

Consumers buy because of name recognition or personal recommendation from a friend. By taking the time to understand an individuals story & realizing the struggles they go through to find quality tasting food that will meet their dietary restrictions I was reminded of the integral role that our product serves on a daily bases.

As companies continue to grow and utilize social media & mass communication to reach their demographics I suggest striking a balance between mass communication and consumer interaction. Companies must not lose sight of their mission and reason they were even established and they must believe that missing an opportunity to interact with consumers is more detrimental than the cost of  a registration fee.

A Day in the Life of An RMD Intern: Week 3

A Day in the Life of An RMD Intern: Week 3

The importance of working in a positive work environment is crucial. Absolutely crucial. Each day we set an expectation for what a successful day will look like:  how many tasks do I need to accomplish, how many e-mails do I need respond to, and will I make time to go to the gym?

That is a great idea but, what happens when life gets in the way. Was your morning delayed because of an accident?  Did you not hear your alarm go off, or are you just feeling “off”?

RMD Advertising Intern Peace of MindUnfortunately, we are all inclined to have factors that get in the way of having our most successful day which ends up impacting our day. This often can be seen as internalizing our mistakes and feeling defined by the setback as it guides our interaction with others.  It is crucial to not let external factors impact your efficiency.

How is this possible one may ask? Take responsibility for all actions and choices that you make.  When it comes to a work environment others are dependent upon you for your production and they unfortunately do not care about the noise that is getting in the way of your success.

Communicate with your supervisor and employees if you are not going to be able to uphold a deadline, take the time to reflect on why you were unable to meet the deadline, and move on. Each day brings new challenges and an opportunity to apply lessons learned.


Here is a list of 5 ways to be Positively Productive:

Gratitude List  starting your day off on a positive note serves as a friendly reminder that life isn’t so crummy after all .

• Reflection is a crucial part of our day. Take time at the end of each day to reflect. What mistakes did I make? How can I do this better? Praise your self for all of the tasks you accomplished!

Company Culture impacts your happiness & productivity level. If being healthy is important to you than find a work environment that believes in that!  Because my co-workers make it a priority to exercise I am reminded the integral importance that fitness plays, not only to fight off the common cold but, to harness positivity.  Even if your work environment is not like this find a friend & hold each other accountable.

Realize some molds are unbreakable and some of our characteristics are inherit. Do you have strong interpersonal skills but, freeze any time you have to do data entry or work with computers? Do not take it personally. Every job provides tasks that you are not necessarily good at  & it serves as an appreciation for what are your true talents.

Morning Madness can make or break a day!   Take time to figure out what it takes to have a successful day. Not everyone is a morning person but, unfortunately the average American begins their day at 8:00 AM. Figure out what you need to do to start off on a great foot.



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