Red Robin ad doesn't go down well with vegetarians

A commercial aiming to show how the burger chain can cater to them backfires badly.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 18, 2013 1:40PM

File photo of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers in Tampa, on Feb. 8, 2011 (© St. Petersburg Times/ best-laid plains of mice and men often go astray, and apparently that's also true for burger chains.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) wanted to tout its wide range of burger options --- including a veggie burger -- with a new ad, but instead the company has ended up with egg on its face. 

The commercial won't be on the air much longer, the Huffington Post reports, after a spokesman noted that the spot is being phased out of rotation "very soon."

The commercial features an actress dressed as a Red Robin server, gushing about the chain's 24 types of burgers. In a snarky voice, she adds, "We even have a garden burger just in case your teenage daughter is going through a phase."

That's not going down well with some vegetarians, who have taken to Red Robin's Facebook page to complain about characterizing the diet as a "phase."

One customer wrote: "My family used to eat at Red Robin. Fortunately, it was just a phase."

A photo on the chain's Facebook page depicts a little girl sitting underneath a framed picture of Albert Einstein at one of its locations, prompting another commenter to write, "Einstein was a vegetarian -- guess he didn't hear that he was a teenage girl going through a phase!"

Of course, Red Robin could attribute the backlash to the sensitive feelings of vegetarians, a group that's pegged at 3.2% of U.S. adults. Perhaps because they're such a small minority, vegetarians are lucky if a restaurant offers one meat-free entree. 

But the bigger issue for Red Robin and other advertisers is how campaigns can often go astray by trying to be hip or funny.

Other recent failures include Durex condoms' social media push asking Facebook fans to vote on which city should receive a rush delivery. Internet wags voted for the town of Batman, in a conservative Muslim province in Turkey. Durex's misstep could have been avoided if the company had offered a multiple-choice option with preselected cities. 

Similarly, Red Robin probably should have taken a few minutes to think about its message, which ended up alienating the very consumers it had hoped to attract to its veggie burgers. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

More on moneyNOW

Jun 18, 2013 2:44PM
Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor any more?  The ad was a joke.
Jun 18, 2013 2:49PM
If you ever had a teenage daughter, you would understand the phrase "going through a phase". It was probably meant to be funny, but as usual someone got offended and had their little feelings hurt. If you don't like Red Robin, don't eat there. Go buy some lettuce and make yourself a damn salad.
Jun 18, 2013 2:44PM
wow vegetarians are crying.... whats new

Jun 18, 2013 2:46PM

Excuse me?  Isn't the FIRST thing you think of when YOU hear the word burger:  MEAT?


Oh, yeah, I've known a number of vegetarians, and only about 5% had a sense of humor, let alone a sense of tolerance.


The only thing worse than a smoker who has just quit, is a person who has just turned vegetarian.


Neither one can SHUT UP about it, and both talk about it incessantly.


And you always get a "holier than thou, I'm better than you" vibe from them, like THEY'RE superior

Jun 18, 2013 3:04PM
I just took a look at their menu online.  Not sure why a vegatarian would even wander into a place named "Red Robin Gourmet Burgers".  I sure as hell don't wander into "Vegan's delight" and look for a steak.
Jun 18, 2013 2:48PM
Really. If the complaining Vegetarians where truly comfortable with their lifestyle choice they would not care. Last time I looked meat eaters were not criticizing vegetarian restaurants for discriminating against meat eaters. Find something better to do. 
Jun 18, 2013 2:54PM
My god people get butt hurt so easily these days. Grow some thicker skin.
Jun 18, 2013 3:04PM
Oh Dear a Veg-head is upset AGAIN! Boo-Hoo. At least meat eaters have a sense of humor. "Vegetarian" an old indian word for "lousy hunter"!
Jun 18, 2013 3:13PM
I think it is very true and very funny.

Get a life veggies.

Honestly, I have no problem with vegetarians. As long as they are cooked properly.

Jun 18, 2013 3:05PM
I once had a business event that I had to pre-order my lunch from a short list of menu items.  I selected the mushroom burger expecting a fat, juicy patty buried in sauteed mushrooms.  Imagine my dismay when I was given a bun with nothing but a giant mushroom.  I don't know if I've ever been so sad. 
Jun 18, 2013 2:35PM
Veggie burgers? URP, no thank you. I want an real beef hamburger made on my grill.
Jun 18, 2013 3:14PM
How do you know that someone is a vegetarian?  Don't worry, they'll f'ing tell you!
Jun 18, 2013 3:05PM
For crips sake, eat your carrots and get a life.  It's a joke, DUH!
Jun 18, 2013 3:12PM
Why would a "burger" place care if vegetarians say they won't eat there anymore?  Run the commercial, there's a lot of truth to their quip.  And it's not as though being vegetarian is a disability, lighten up. 
Jun 18, 2013 2:51PM
Thought the advertisement was very amusing for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Actually enjoy both types of burgers.
Jun 18, 2013 3:11PM

The sub-headline in this story says the ad 'backfires badly'. Then the second sentence in the article says their stock price is up 1.27%.


The person who wrote it must be a vegan...

Jun 18, 2013 3:02PM
Jun 18, 2013 3:04PM
Are there that many Vegans around that it's a big concern?  I guess it's one of those "Squeaky Wheel" things?
Jun 18, 2013 3:04PM
Vegans are the few the proud and the crazy!!!
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