Burger giant Red Robin found itself in hot water this week after its cheeky T.V. ad poked fun at the vegetarian lifestyle. The commercial touted: “We even have a Gardenburger—just in case your teenage daughter is going through a phase.”
A Red Robin spokesperson stated that the ad was trying to draw attention to the chain’s vegetarian options in “an irreverent, lighthearted way,” but the effort did not go over so well with the meat-free crowd.
The spot prompted outrage from vegans, vegetarians and activists on social media after it recently hit the air waves, with some consumers even announcing their boycott of the eatery.
Red Robin responded to the upset customers by issuing an apology. “”If anyone was offended by the ad, we sincerely apologize. We value all our guests, including those who want vegan and vegetarian options.” Though reportedly not cut because of the herbivore backlash, the ad will soon be off the air as it was part of a rotating ad campaign.
However, as a chain known for its beef burgers, will this controversy really hurt Red Robin? Though the restaurant provides other menu offerings, its main target audience is clearly composed of meat eaters. The commercial may get a laugh out of that group or at least bring Red Robin to the top of their minds, and the ad’s virality through its controversy has gotten Red Robin far more exposure than the T.V. spot alone would have.
What do you think? Did Red Robin foolishly alienate a part of its customer base, or inadvertently secure additional, free advertising?