A couple days ago I was interviewed by a reporter who was working on an article for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Evidently there is a new Heart Attack Grill opening up in Sin City later this year. The reporter must have stumbled upon one of my blog posts from March 16, 2o11 titled “Heart Attack Grill: Where Indulgence Meets Gluttony.” As a reminder, Heart Attack Grill is the medically themed restaurant where they serve huge burgers (double bypass burger, triple bypass burger) and the waitresses dress up like nurses. And get this, people who weigh more than 350 pounds eat for free.
The reporter and I had a great conversation that lasted probably 10 minutes. I gave him some thoughtful content in response to his questions. When he asked if what they do is wrong (promoting unhealthy eating) I told him that fundamentally what they’re doing is no different than what they do at PF Chang’s or Cheesecake Factory. They serve large, unhealthy, high fat, high calorie meals. They just do it in a politically incorrect manner while celebrating unhealthy eating and indulgence. You rarely hear anyone complaining that they are shocked by the business practices of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts or Ben & Jerry’s, but they both are in the same business as Heart Attack Grill and are beloved brands. They just package what they do in a significantly different manner. I also spoke about the popularity of extreme eating and how the Food Network in now running a couple of shows based on that concept. (Heck, ESPN just televised the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.)
After this great interview, what do you think makes its way into print? The reporter positioned me responding to the restaurant owner’s claim that they actually teach people how to eat healthy. Here’s my amazing quote (note my sarcasm):
“I think that’s a crock,” said Dan Dunlop, a marketing expert who heads a North Carolina ad agency and has followed the Heart Attack Grill’s marketing efforts over the years.
“I don’t think they need to apologize for what they do, but to represent themselves as a standard-bearer for healthy living? That’s bull.”
All restaurants thrive on indulgence, Dunlop said — they’re just less straightforward about how they sell it.
“That is no different from P.F. Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Krispy Kreme donuts,” he said. “Those are rich brands that America has embraced.”
Basso (the restaurant owner) is just more blatant: “They don’t hide their indulgence. They go from indulgence to gluttony,” Dunlop said. And that connects with a part of the public that’s tired of being lectured to about their diets, he said. (Source: LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, By Alan Choate, July 27, 2011)
I can’t believe he caught me saying “That’s a crock” and “That’s bull” in the same article. That media training sure came in handy! Subtlety has never been my strength – particularly when it is not mandatory. The good news is, I stand by my comments. To check out the article, click here. If you’d like to read more about the Heart Attack Grill, go to my original blog post where you can even view their TV commercials.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer