COMMENTARY -- A Red Robin ad has vegetarians fired up.
The 476-strong restaurant chain is a gourmet burger specialty house. The supposedly controversial ad, which you can see in the video, announces that they have "24 different burgers to cater to a lot of different tastes."
In the ad, the actress then lowers her voice and explains that they even have a vegetarian Garden Burger "in case your teen-age daughter is going through a phase."
OK, fair enough.
Burger fans don't normally eat at vegan health food counters, and vegetarians don't dine in burger places. The only real reason a vegetarian would go there would be if you were forced to by your mom or some other family member.
So it would seem to me that the Red Robin ad is just acknowledging a real-life situation in a humorous fashion.
However, for whatever reason, some vegetarians who viewed the Red Robin ad had steam coming out of their ears.
According to The Huffington Post, there was an outpouring of negative reaction to the ad. Red Robin's senior director of communications Kevin Caulfield told the Huff Post that the ad will be out of rotation soon.
I'm not sure why they even bothered to respond. Huff Post pulled out some of the posts on the Red Robin Facebook page from angry vegetarians. They wouldn't convince me that the restaurant chain lost ten cents' worth of business.
For example, a poster named Jesse VanHall wrote, "I've never eaten at Red Robin...I will not be a patron of Red Robin until they issue a formal apology and pull the add."
Yeah, OK. Red Robin should totally listen to VanHall. Because it's good business sense to cater to people who aren't your freakin' customers anyway.
People who liked the Red Robin ad or thought it was funny far outnumbered the haters, going by the posts on the burger chain's Facebook page. And they actually seemed to represent real Red Robin diners, who have already proven willing to spend money there.
Many comments echoed this one by Tyler Lyerly:
"Love the humor in that commercial. Because of it, I will eat at Red Robin more often. If someone gets offended by this commercial, it's likely they'll be offended by everything they encounter."
Multiple people admitted that they themselves had gone through the vegetarian phase.
As a matter of fact, so did this writer. I was a vegetarian for three years, and you know what? It can be isolating if you refuse to eat like people around you. Socializing over meals is a critical part of human bonding.
Red Robin acknowledged that, and they provided a vegetarian choice even though those customers aren't their target market. I think they did OK.
As for me, if I ever go back to being a vegetarian, I won't eat at a burger chain.
And I won't complain that the burger chain I don't patronize is targeting their ads to actual burger eaters, not to me.
If you disagree, fire away in the comments. What's your take on the Red Robin ad brouhaha?
[burger photo by Jeffrey W via Wikimedia]