How it started
It all began at the end of 2014. I was out judging for The Publican Awards and one of my finalists was Be At One. That was when Be At One’s marketing manager Sarah Swaysland and director of operations Andrew Stones told me about the group’s plans for January 2015. They involved an initiative called Try January and it was being positioned with their app to help draw attention to the operator’s new ‘virtuous’ cocktails range.
It was at that point that I said: “You know, that’s a really brilliant idea. I’d like to make this industry-wide and get as many people out to pubs and bars during January.”
That’s when I began talking to lots of people about the idea - to get the message out there. It's the start of a new year. It's meant to be positive.
It looked like, across outlets, it needn’t be just about cocktails. It could be food and drink. It could be soft drinks for those doing Dry January (although I’m not a fan of abstain campaigns myself) it really could be anything. Plus, it seemed like an injection of positivity for the entire hospitality industry. A way to encourage people to try new things and challenge their taste buds, rather than lean back on old favourites.
As an industry, the pub and drinks trade take a lot of flack and yet there are so few people who flag up its merits.
Socialising is good for the soul. Learning more about food and drink is also incredibly empowering in terms of us all making discerning choices about what we consume.
I think the campaign has got legs. I also think that we need “what are your Try January options” to become part of people’s bar call.
What can you do?
I’m hearing from rather a lot of you right now, saying that you would like to support the campaign. I think this is brilliant. I will aim to get as many ideas across to you online and via the magazine in the next month. But a lot of the initiative needs to come from each venue and your teams. You need to have a Try January ideas meeting and suggest some things your outlet might like to push throughout January to generate interest and excitement.
You need to take pictures of them and push those out across social media. You need to feel proud of what you have to offer and keep at it.
I need as many of you to use the #TryJanuary hashtag in January to draw attention to things you think people should try in your venue. It can help certain drinks and dishes generate a buzz about them. It can give people reasons to go out and socialise and interact and talk about their food and drinks choices and expand their repertoires.
At the moment, it’s just me amidst a handful of operators who believe in the on-trade and the positivity behind the cause.
I’d really appreciate your support. Talk about Try January; embrace the sentiment. It’s good for everyone.