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Advertising and the Menu
Forget television, the Internet, and radio. The best opportunity for quick-serve advertising is right under your nose—on the food tray.
The best opportunity for quick-serve advertising is...on the food tray?

As the quick-serve market moves toward introducing electronic advertising to its dine-in customers, a new company is looking to extend the reach of advertising to the food tray that helps transport food from the counter to the dining room table.

Mediox is an ambitious undertaking by businessmen and former ATI Technologies employees Roman Kyrychynskyi and Alex Zhavoronkov. The pair founded the company in September 2006 and want to give quick-serve restaurants the ability to replace their current plastic customer food trays with 21st-century versions that display video advertisements in a 3x3-inch screen and could eventually allow restaurant diners to surf the web and purchase electronics via an internet connection.

Mediox plans to introduce a tray model that will show video advertisements preloaded onto the machine. These videos will vary in length and could include advertisements from third-party clients.

The second, more ambitious model will come later. Zhavoronkov and company plan to introduce an interactive display that allows users to browse live music broadcasts, movie previews, and eventually, purchase products, all on a Wi-Fi internet connection.

An important distinction between the tray and the greater digital signage movement is that advertisers can track ad click-throughs, as with the web.

The interactive model is going to take a gargantuan effort, Zhavoronkov says. The company will test deploy those models in a limited amount of restaurants in a year, and it might take two more years before it is ready for widespread use.

Although Mediox is still in the process of designing a working tray prototype that can be mass-produced, Mediox President and CEO Dr. Robert Lamson says he isn’t worried about the technical details of making a food tray that can connect to the internet and play videos.

“With the materials available now a days and the fact that you can miniaturize so well and you can reduce heat issues to a minimum, I’m not worried about at all. There’s going to be time and testing involved and so on, but I don’t see anything that is an insurmountable problem,” Lamson says. “The initial issue is really survivability in the restaurant. We need to work with customers with issues like space management issues, storage of the device, and charging the device.”

Lamson has started and lead four companies in his 35-year career in international business. As CEO for CMI International from 1995 to 2001, he led the company as it developed the ICEBOX, a web-based kitchen entertainment center, according to Mediox’s web site.

Lamson worked with Zhavoronkov during a consultant job while Zhavoronkov was with ATI. The Mediox idea was something they discussed when both men were working in Russia and had developed preliminary ideas and concepts around it.

“It’s something that just makes sense,” Lamson says.

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