This Company Got Marketing 1000% Right Decades Before “IHOB.”
A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and his own house. — Jesus Christ
It should come as no surprise that the company that has built its reputation on doing the exact opposite of what literally everyone in the industry was and is doing has never experienced worldwide success.
This company that I’m talking about predicted and predated the viciously hilarious clap-backs of Wendy’s Twitter account. It set the standard that would later be embraced by IHOB…IHOP…whoever they are. It forged a path of intentionally creating controversy (and free publicity!) trodden by the likes of everyone from Budweiser to a minor league baseball team in Montgomery, Alabama.
I am speaking, of course, about Dick’s Last Resort.
You know the company, even if you’ve never actually eaten at one of their thirteen locations: they’re the ones who hire servers to be deliberately rude and obnoxious to you. It’s a barbecue joint where YOU get roasted. You pay money to be insulted and belittled. In fact, you may even pay more money, in the form of a handsome tip, if the insulting and belittling was particularly clever.
While the concept of “roasting” wasn’t invented by the restaurant, Dick’s Last Resort popularized it outside the domain of booze-riddled celebrity roasts like those of Dean Martin and Carol Channing. We went from laughing at celebrities being made fun of, to laughing at ourselves being made fun of (although it’s always more fun if the table NEXT to you has the especially brutal server).
In a lot of ways, we’re living in the world that Dick’s Last Resort created for us. And, like so many world-changers before it, the restaurant that started it all owns less than fifteen locations around the country. Compare that to the number of McDonald’s or Hard Rock Cafes. But which, I ask you, has had more subconscious cultural impact in the last twenty years? Which one better tapped into the American psyche? Which one understood what its customers wanted, but were too afraid to ask for?
You may catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but you catch people’s attention by being controversial and outlandish.
Welcome to 2018 and the triumph of Dick’s Last Resort!