The Internet is abuzz with news of one douche-y fried chicken restaurant this week, but make no mistake: There's always room for one more.
Here in Portland we've never even seen a Chick-fil-A, but we're all too familiar with the breastaurant that is Hooters. Known for its scantily clad waitresses, its "delightfully tacky yet unrefined" slogan, and its bros-before-hos atmosphere (oh and, sure, its "chicken wings"), the chain is currently in the process of rebranding to "appeal to a broader, younger audience that includes women." Judging by the ad spots Hooters released this week, they've got a ways to go before they hit that goal.
Exhibit A: A lifeguard is so disgusted by the older ladies exercising in the pool that he has to work through his trauma with a cheeseburger, fries, two salads, a plate of wings, a pitcher and a half of beer, and two Hooters employees.
Old ladies are gross. Let's go look at boobs and eat a burger.
The new campaign features two owl puppets—a devil and an angel—meant to represent the internal conflict many customers face when eating fried food at what is basically the world's least gratifying strip club. On the one hand, you consider yourself a nice person, but on the other hand, you want to objectify women while you eat lunch! What to do???
You eat at Hooters, duh. Also seriously, how is one guy supposed to eat all that food?
Apparently, this rebrand—created by Fitzgerald & Co.—is meant to not only appeal to a younger audience but also to highlight the food at Hooters over the, well, hooters. That's what they say, sure, but so far that is not what these ads actually do.
Exhibit B: The devil and angel owls make a "that's what she said" joke and then argue over whether or not the waitress wants to bang one of them. No one mentions food, though apparently these two felt puppets have downed an entire pitcher of beer already.
I know I'm overthinking this, but why would an owl order a plate of wings?!?
Hooters has also updated its slogan, from, "Delightfully tacky yet unrefined" to, "Feed the dream." Now I've never been a Hooters supporter, but at least the old slogan was honest and somewhat clever. Going to a chain restaurant best known for young hotties in orange hot pants and tight tank tops is tacky, and most customers realized that. With the updated copy though, Hooters is trying to convince a younger audience that there's nothing distasteful about its schtick. According to the campaign, eating at Hooters—which means stuffing your face with greasy junk food while ogling women whose job it is to serve you—is not just a dream come true, it is the dream come true.
While this might seem like just another bogus ad slogan, targeting young people with a message that normalizes, nay, glamorizes the objectification of women is more than just gross—it contributes to rape culture in a big way. When we're telling teen boys (and girls!) that it's their awesome, dreamy right to have women display their breasts for them and serve them food at Hooters, it's not too big of a leap to thinking it's their awesome, dreamy right to have women display their breasts for them in non-Hooters locations. Does this mean all teens who see these ads will become rapists? No, of course not. But it does make the objectification of women that much more a part of their daily lives. At least with the "tacky" slogan Hooters was telling it like is—we objectify women and we know it's gross—instead of glorifying it.
While Chick-fil-A dominates the corner of the media reserved for homophobic, sexist, assholish chicken restaurants this week, let us not forget Hooters. With its new campaign and its old business model, this chain is doubling down on the douchebaggery in a big way.
Previously: Sexist Olympic Advertising
In case you were wondering: Here's why we use the term "douchebag" on the Bitch blogs.