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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ruby Tuesday Viral Ad Campaign Could Backfire

ruby tuesday and homer simpson

While families stay home for dinner to save money, chain restaurants are desperate to overhaul their image, including Ruby Tuesday. Recently, the casual-dining chain  started a TV and web campaign to highlight their nation-wide renovation effort to enhance the atmosphere.

In an interesting twist, one of their web commercials showed an "accidental" implosion of "Chici's Bar and Grill" a rival restaurant that was next to their demolition site. It was followed by an "Apology" from Jim Robbins, Senior VP of marketing (fictional).

We had intended to blow up our own restaurant to mark our departure from the sea of sameness within the casual dining industry. Ironically, the demolition crew mistook Chicis for the last of our old restaurants. Again to Chici's, our sincerest apologies.

To the discerning viewer, the message is clear- Ruby Tuesday is striving to renew its image, literally and figuratively, while competitors such as Chilis and TGI Fridays, are stuck in the past.On its surface Ruby's concept seems like a good idea, but judging from the flood of ignorant comments on Youtube , there were plenty of viewers who were duped into thinking that the "accident" was legit.

USA Today's article criticized the wasted effort.

It was a Web hit that was a Hail Mary attempt to shine lights on the fact that Ruby Tuesday just spent $70 million to reinvent itself with new décor, a new menu and even new duds on its servers.Even with the publicity bump, the chain's same-store sales are off.

I always appreciate satirical, symbolic and self-deprecating humor, but if your campaign's message backfires(get it?) it can create enough confusion to give your brand a reputation on par with Homer Simpson. Then again, maybe you don't want those viewers as your customer base.

The important lesson to remember- For every savvy viewer, there are just as many knuckle-heads who may interpret it literally, because the  average Youtube viewer may just move on totally unrelated video.


By Matt O'Hern at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

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