Restaurant chain Hooters – known for its scantily clad girls, sports coverage and deep fried menu – is making a drive to appeal to female consumers.
The brand has carved a place in the market as a place for men to watch sports, drink beer, and eat chicken wings served by Hooters girls. But now the chain is in a drive to appeal to the other half of the consumer market: women. Efforts include a new tagline, two new TV commercials and employee snapshots on YouTube. Interestingly, Hooters has recently seen a perception lift among male consumers rather than among females. The Impression score for Hooters asked men and women in the 18-34 demographic: “Do you have a positive impression of this brand, or do you have a negative impression of this brand?”
Beginning in early August, Hooters diversified its menu to include more salads, burgers and dressings – although it hasn’t changed its signature chicken wings. The marketing effort called “Hooters 2.0” includes a new tagline, “Feed the dream”. Hooters will remodel around 25 stores in the next year as part of plans to revamp 430 of its restaurants – so the Hooters’ makeover will be a marathon and not a sprint.
Recent attempts to diversify the brand also include two new television spots featuring owl finger puppets. The first TV commercial, “Lifeguard”, features a devil owl and an angel owl on the shoulder of a lifeguard watching over some elderly swimmers in a pool. The devil owl insults the old swimmers and tells the lifeguard to go to Hooters for lunch – the humor is a direct appeal to younger consumers, perhaps at the expense of the older demographic.
The second spot, “Fantasy Football”, also sees the owl finger puppets – a change from previous Hooters ads, which tended to focus on the girls themselves. Perhaps it will take more than finger puppets to impress young women; since the commercials were broadcast on July 29, there has been no significant change in Impression score among females aged 18-34 to the present day. The story is different among men aged 18-34, as Impression score for this group improved from 9.9 before the ads were aired on July 27 to 15.4 on August 10.
Earlier in July, Hooters launched a social media drive with its “Hooters Behind the Orange” video series. It features online interviews with Hooters girls, in order to personalize the waitresses behind the brand. The videos aired at the beginning of July, and has attracted approximately 39,000 views to date, but does not seem to have led to a response from young women whose perception of Hooters remained relatively stable. Among men aged 18-34 Impression score rose from -24.2 on July 2 to 12.9 by the end of the month. The upward trend in Impression score amongst young men suggests that the Hooters revamp has generated gains for the chain during July – just not in the female demographic.