It’s Foodie Friday and I’m shaking my head today. No, not at the fact that we’re still walking around the Northeast wearing sweaters entering Memorial Day Weekend but at something I read about a “marketing” effort being made by the folks at Chili’s. This from the AP:
Chili’s says it’s spending about $750,000 a year for an egg wash that gives its burger buns a photogenic glaze. It’s part of an effort by the chain to get you to take pictures of its food and post them online. In addition to using burger buns with an egg wash…the chain also recently started serving its fries in a stainless steel holder that “looks cool.” And ribs are no longer served in big slabs reminiscent of The Flintstones cartoons, but are cut into sections and stacked.
Hmm. Why risk bad photos? How about plastic food that’s perfect in each lobby? Perhaps a little booth into which you can cart your burger and fries that’s perfectly lit? Maybe the servers and bartenders need to be more photogenic while we’re at it. Even better – provide digital downloads via your free wi-fi so customers don’t risk getting their phones messy. What’s that? You don’t have free wi-fi?
This is not a great use of funds, but it’s also selfish. This move is about Chili’s and not about their customers. Chili’s wants to “go viral” with pretty pictures and good-looking food. I wonder how viral really great food is. Judging from what I pick up in my news feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, great food gets posts (yes, I have a lot of foodie friends) and while some of the photos are lacking in composition or badly lit, I’d try anything my friends think is worth the calories.
In each of its past two fiscal years, sales at established Chili’s locations rose less than 1 percent. Maybe better looking isn’t the answer. I’m willing to bet better tasting, reasonably priced and served efficiently with a smile are ahead of it in line. You know – that silly customer-focused stuff you’re ignoring in your quest for social traction.
What do you all think?