The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Good Intentions Go Bad …
April 11, 2014, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

A few weeks ago I had dinner at a Hard Rock cafe.

Once one of the ‘must visit’ venues, it is now a dinosaur trying desperately to maintain relevance.

They’re not doing a great job of it.

Now I know rock music is not as popular as it once was, but seeing the sweatbands of Selena Gomez’s drummer doesn’t do them any favours.

Apart from the fact Selena Gomez’s fans are all about 5 years old, she is to Rock n’ Roll what I am to style and sophistication.

And that’s the thing, I think they should go firmly back to their rock roots. Because as much as the musical genre might not be as popular as it once was, it still is the genre that brings the World the real Rock Stars – the ones who have glitz, glamour, flamboyance, drama and filthy, wonderful stories – and where a night out is concerned, especially a celebratory night out, those are the attributes that have real appeal, especially when the alternative is sitting inches away from a bandana that was once worn by the bass player of Girls Aloud.

But I digress …

The thing that really bothered me about the Hard Rock was when I was handed the menu.

It wasn’t that the prices were utterly extortionate [though they were] it was this:

Yep, on a menu for overpriced food was a statement asking you to ‘imagine there’s no World hunger’.

I admire their ambition … I admire they will give some money to someone hungry for every meal purchased … but putting that on the front cover of the menu seems a bit weird to me.

Why couldn’t they just hand that over when the receipt came … telling you that what you’ve bought has just helped feed someone who is hungry. If they did that, it would make you feel good about what you’ve eaten rather than guilty about the gluttony given you feel there is a small island currently pulsating in your stomach.

Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad if their portions were smaller … but saying ‘imagine no World hunger’ when their desserts are the size of a small planet and could feed 5000 seems like totally mixed messaging.

Have a look at this.

That is supposedly for one person.


I know American’s are big, but that is ridiculous.

As I said, it’s hard to knock them because they seem like they genuinely give a shit – and that’s good – but the way they are executing it seems misplaced, especially when there are so many other ways they could have done it and helped … from lowering food portion sizes [and giving the money saved in lower produce purchase costs to the needy] through to simply handing out all the food left over at night to the local homeless.

I guess, when you try and make a charitable action into a marketing activity, you sometimes lose sight of how to actually solve the problem because the allure of advertising your association is too compelling … especially when you are desperate for news and relevance.

And in an instant, all the good things you’re doing are lost because people end up commenting about how you’re doing things rather than why – which means the much bigger issue fails to have as much impact as it could. Or should.

24 Comments so far
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I think you’re being generous Rob. It’s hypocritical to serve gigantic portion sizes and say you want to help the hungry. As you suggested, if they made the portion sizes smaller, they could pass on the savings they’ll make on their food costs to those in need.

I think you sum it up well when you say good deeds fall flat when you try and turn them into a marketing opportunity and this is one of those times, even if their intentions are good.

And the bandana of a girl bands bass player was hilarious. Good post.

Comment by Pete

I think reducing portion sizes is a smart and simple move. But I question if it would be effective because people tend to get annoyed paying the same price for less, even if they know it’s for a good cause. Especially as they are aware they are already paying a large premium for sitting there.
I don’t know how their “feed the homeless” program is currently organised, but if every meal can pay for another persons meal (even at cost), it’s little wonder people have been finding alternative places to eat. Good intentions mean little if you are reliant on others to fund its execution.
I’m glad you ended the week on a higher quality post Robert, this week has been lacking.

Comment by George

Smart yes, but would it really be simple in terms of the logistics of a restaurant chain? I imagine that’s why they went with the obvious leafleting rather than mess with the business process.

Comment by John

It appears to me that they need someone to interfere with their business processes but I agree this is not where they should start. Their expansion in to hotels seems a smart and logical idea but then I used to say that about Hooters until my wife pointed out that no corporate traveller or married man would ever be allowed to stay there.

Comment by George

You’re right, maybe their systems wouldn’t allow the smaller portion thing to be adopted … it was just a thought.

As I said, I’m not slagging off what Hard Rock are doing, I’m just slagging off how they’re doing it … because their approach is confusing and contradicting and it needn’t be that way.

Marketing a CSR is fine as long as it’s being done for the right reasons [ie: Tesco’s ‘computers for schools program of the 90’s] however this comes across as potentially exploitative [and definitely hypocritical] because how they act is different to what they’re saying.

Comment by Rob

BTW, the Hard Rock hotel is a great expansion … far better than their restaurant chain and totally different to Hooters. Living like a Rockstar appeals to both sexes, not just men.

As an aside, when I was doing some stuff for them, they put me up in one of their suites and what I loved was that when the hotel receptionist needed me to sign the admission papers, she said:

“Can I have your autograph please?”


What was even more genius is that when I congratulated the Hard Rock management team on those little touches to make the guests feel like a Rockstar, they said the way I was asked to sign wasn’t corporate policy and so the receptionist had done it by herself.

I told them she needs promoting and thanking because she seemed to get the brand more than they did.

Comment by Rob

I hate when the planners make serious comments. I think they’re serious but I never read them.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Or whatever planners call themselves these days.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Well I know George and Pete now have titles that make them sound like cultural yoda’s … even though in reality they’re lowly planners just like me.

Just paid a huuuuuuuge amount more.

Comment by Rob

Maybe their thinking is that when you find out your order helps the hungry, you’ll want a banquet to celebrate.

Is it bad I want that dessert?

Comment by DH

I am ashamed to admit I now want a burger followed with that dessert. Somehow Robert has turned an attack on Hard Rock’s CSR policy in to a sales driver.

Comment by George

Bang goes your nice guy image.

Comment by DH

Nice guy? Have you forgotten this?

He might think enough time has passed to let his momentary poor choice pass. I don’t. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Maybe they shouldn’t be trying to help the hungry but people with cholesterol and heart problems. At least that would keep their customer base coming back knowing their bill is going to help them when they’re admitted to hospital in a few years.

Comment by DH

Hearing loss charities would be even more logical.

Comment by John

Hard Rock Cafes have never been “must-visit” venues. Even in Nottingham.

Comment by John

Is there a Hard Rock in Nottingham?

Comment by George

I’ve checked and the answer is no. It closed in 2007.

Comment by George

The whole city?

Comment by John

Open or closed, bet it looks like a warzone.

Comment by DH

To be fair, everythings closed in Nottingham these days.

Comment by Rob

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