Restaurant chain learns mass-murder doesn’t make for funny advertising

drink the kool aidFor some reason The Hacienda restaurant chain thought an ironic reference to Jonestown was the basis for an ad. Billboards in South Bend, Ind., read “We’re like a cult with better Kool-Aid’ and ‘To die for.” (Did someone tell them South Bend is a hot-bed of irony? They were misinformed.)

The ads were up for two weeks before the company finally got the message this wasn’t such a good idea.

“Our role is not to be controversial or even edgy. We want to be noticed – and there’s a difference,”said Jeff Leslie, vice president of sales and marketing at Hacienda, which also owns the La Senorita restaurant chain in Michigan.

Kudos to Mr. Leslie for not taking the easy way out and throwing his agency under the bus.

The article contains a great look at how this cluster frack came about:

Every year, Leslie said company leaders look at their restaurants, the economy, their customers, and the competition to determine an idea or theme to use for advertising.

This year, Hacienda decided to use “You belong.” You have a place at home, a place at work, and a place to dine, gather and celebrate at Hacienda. As they brainstormed about how people belong to clubs and teams, they discussed how an entity can develop a cult following of like-minded people.

Some people may dress alike or eat the same food or visit the same restaurant or drink the same drink – like margaritas, Leslie said.

“You start playing with headlines,” he said, “and that’s how we ended up with the outdoor board. But we are not getting the reaction we expected. It went the wrong direction, hit a nerve, and we have come to realize we should not have done this billboard. We lose the core message.”

Remember: Anyone can make a mistake but to really screw up you need a committee.

Medical-themed restaurants get all malpractice on each other

HAG18 The fact that “hospital food” is synonymous with inedible hasn’t stopped the opening of two different medical-themed restaurants. Taking the theming even further – one is suing the other for malpractice.

Heart Stoppers Sports Grill in Del Ray, Fla. — which opened in December –  is being sued by Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Ariz., over who has the right to have waitresses dress like “nurses” and “decorate the premises with a heart defibrillator and a dialysis machine. Make the tables look like wheelchairs, put salt and pepper in pill bottles, and present the bill in a plastic first-aid kit.”

The menu idea associated with this (and I use the word idea very loosely) are things like Chili Chest Pain Fries and The Heart Stopper, a 3-pound burger. At the Heart Stoppers, the menu warns "consumption of our food will definitely lead to obesity" and there is a standing offer of free food to anyone over 350 pounds.

"I’m 90 pounds away from eating for free," said a half-joking, 260-pound Dan Pagano, who was finishing up his $8.25 half-pound burger and fries at Heart Stoppers. Pagano, who writes service orders at a nearby car dealership, has been eating at Heart Stoppers twice a week since it opened.

Lawyers for Heart Attack claim they are “the originator of the medically themed hamburger grill and restaurant.” (Is that really something to brag about?) They also say there are 30 similarities between the two restaurants including the EKG heart monitor imagery on the signage to the free food offer for customers over 350 pounds.

Heart Attack fare includes the Singe & Double-bypass burgers and Flatliner Fries™.

Can we health care reform both of these places out of business before I get sick?

Radiation poisoning is good exposure for UK restaurant

Bookings are way up at a UK restaurant named “Polonium Restaurant” following the death-by-radiation murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and foe of Russian President-For-Life Putin. The owner of the restaurant, Boguslaw Sidorowicz, said he named the eatery after a band he was in.

When I saw the restaurant’s name all over the papers — I thought someone had booked us an advert. We’ve had an incredible 728,000 hits on the Polonium website, and have been inundated with calls from around the globe,” he said.

Meanwhile in China … The Dayawan nuclear power plant located by the South China Sea in southern Guangdong province is opening up its doors to tourists. For 30 Yuan entry fee you get to learn about its construction and safety measures and get “access to ‘Lovers’ Island,’ a wharf and a lookout point offering a view of Dayawan and Lingao, another nuclear plant being built nearby.” No word on a gift shop or t-shirts yet but all proceeds will go to charity. Could amount to $3 a year…

… which could be used to repair a new hole in the Great Wall. The Hongji Landbridge construction company has been fined $62K for blowing up a chunk of the Wall and building a highway through it. Officials say they warned the company against doing this. And after issuing the warning they laughed all the way to the bank.

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