At my current stage in life, Hooters (the restaurant – not the, ahem...female appendages) presents an interesting dilemma. I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t like the idea of jumping up and going out to a restaurant known internationally for attractive and friendly young ladies wearing tight shorts and tops that serve standard, tasty, pub-fare food with a wink and a smile. I’d also be lying if I said that somewhere deep down within my not completely hidden twelve year old self the inherent joke that exists within the title of the restaurant didn’t still appeal to me. “Hooters” actually means boobies, heh, heh, not owls. Heh, heh, heh.....
When you consider that every other restaurant out there does whatever they can to hire similarly attractive ladies as servers while also instructing them to be as friendly and engaging as possible it seems kind of unfair to target Hooters for being unduly sexist or especially insulting to women. I mean, the only thing that really makes Hooters stand out from the pack is their not-so-subtle reference to breasts in the title. And when you get down to it, that little thing is really the main thing that makes Hooters what it is.
Now I wouldn’t consider taking my wife to one. I mean the look alone she would fire at me for even suggesting such a destination would melt steel. And really, what guy in his right mind would ever decide to take a date there? When you’re trying to show interest in your potential sweetie-pie going someplace guaranteed to make your head swivel more than Linda Blair in The Exorcist is definitely not high on the smart scale. Taking it further, I would probably never even bring any of my daughters into one ‘cause what sort of conversations would I face when they eventually ask “So why do they call it Hooters anyway?” About the only people I could even consider attending with would be buddies my own age and honestly, the reality of five or six guys in their mid-forties acting like chuckleheads around attractive twenty somethings effectively scraps that plan. No, I’d have to say that Hooters really isn’t for me anymore. Luckily, they appear to get that too as their new series of ads are directed more towards their proper, natural customer: Young, single, men.
In a large (and I assume master-planned) multi-year initiative, Hooters has set out to revitalize their brand. They are starting off with some commercials designed to appeal to a broader and younger audience. Even still, they take great care to assure one and all that the famous orange gym shorts and just-right, tight tops will remain intact. All they really want to do is get seriously serious about being competitive once more.
The first spot out was hilarious – at least to me. It featured Hooters’ two new finger puppet mascots – a Devil Owl and an Angel Owl - two bickering buddies that turn up in various places and argue about things before (always) deciding on Hooters for lunch. In the one commercial that I think epitomized the brand’s new push the best we meet a young dude working as a lifeguard at his local community pool. He is supervising a senior ladies aqua-fit class and looks about as sad, bored and depressed as a guy can get. Immediately, the duelling finger puppets appear at his shoulders, providing a sort of eternal back and forth as to what could very well be the soundtrack inside the guy’s head as he watches old ladies bounce and weave in a large pool.
Devil Owl: “What is the opposite of the fountain of youth?”
Angel Owl: “Look at how wise they are out there.”
Devil Owl: “Arrggh, I wish I didn’t have huge eyes......and great vision.”
Cut to hyper-close up shots of aged, female flesh.......all jiggling and jaggling.
Angel Owl: “Ethel, you look great.”
Devil Owl: “You know what I could use right now? A burger. Let’s go to Hooters for lunch. I’m buying......I’ll buy!”
Angel Owl: “Stay focused man – we’re saving lives right now.” At exactly this point we are treated to one of the senior gals adjusting her swimsuit bottom in a very functionally dramatic, and visually awful, fashion. Cut immediately to Devil Owl:
“I just threw up in my beak.”
Angel Owl: “Let’s go to Hooters right now.”
Devil Owl: “Let’s get a burger.”
Angel Owl: “Yup...”
And the spot closes on our previously sullen lifeguard now smiling and alive at Hooters as he interacts with two stunning waitresses whilst enjoying a literal tableful of fried food and beer. Without a doubt this is meant to exemplify the absolute perfect tone for the absolute perfect Hooters visit – which, again I must confess, still does appeal to me.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m not happy where I am – I’m one of those guys that actually likes being married with kids. And I’m even cool with the getting older stuff. But I do remember what it was like to be young and dumb and only focused on two main things: girls and grub. Hooters offered what I wanted back then and they apparently still do today. That’s good news for all the young guys out there and when you figure in today’s minimum standards for public decorum/behavior the actual reality presented at you neighbourhood Hooters is comparatively tame – and I do so love their grilled cheese sandwiches. Does that mean I’ll be heading there anytime soon? No, as it happens I can pretty much make the same kind of grilled cheese awesome they did there right here at home. But I do wonder....? Maybe my wife has a pair of bright orange gym shorts I haven’t seen....and maybe she might even consider wearing them around dinner time? It can’t hurt to ask, right?