I watched the US version of Undercover Boss on C4 last night. It was the turn of Coby Brooks, President and CEO of ‘delightfully tacky yet unrefined’ restaurant/bar chain Hooters to go undercover in his own business.
Never heard of Hooters? If I tell you that they’re big on cold beer, fried chicken and pretty girls in very short shorts and that their logo features an owl with a set of boobs for eyes, I’m sure you’ll get the idea.
Following his week of scrubbing dishes and waiting tables, Coby (who is responsible for 455 Hooters branches in the US) suddenly realised that a) many women don’t frequent Hooters because b) they don’t like what they think Hooters stands for.
I refuse to believe that a brand of that size has spent nothing at all on market research in the last few years. Surely even the simplest omnibus or a few focus groups would let the CEO know that some women thought their brand was degrading to women. But no, it took him going out sampling chicken wings on the street with a couple of Hooters girls for the penny (cent?) to drop.
Which is why you have to wonder whether the brand (including the CEO) was perfectly aware that they had an image problem and the boss played dumb undercover to help get their point across via an hour of free airtime.