Snake Oil Mondays at Fridays

January 11, 2018 03:03 PM
TGI Fridays sees fit to disparage your business in an attempt to bolster theirs.

COMMENTARY - If you thought turning the calendar from 2017 to 2018 might usher in a refreshing new wave of logic and common sense…well, it didn’t. Nope. After a holiday break to stand in airports drinking $5 coffee on their way to see relatives they can’t stand, Americans are back to their normal routines – drinking $5 coffee while they stare at their phones absorbing the day’s news from social media.

Cynical much, you ask? Yep. Enveloped by a sense of despair? Close.

That’s because we are now living in the Golden Age for snake oil salesmen. The rapid advent of the internet and social media means that at no time in history has it been easier to promote false ideas and encourage people to take action that is at best, wrong, and at worst, dangerous to man and beast.

Today’s example is brought to us by TGI Fridays, the restaurant chain with 962 locations in 60 countries. A week ago Fridays announced it will add the plant-based Beyond Meat burger to its menu at more than 450 locations in the U.S. That’s cool, because Fridays is privately-owned by Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners, and they’re free to operate their business however they see fit.

This week, however, TGI Fridays sees fit to disparage your business in a transparent attempt to bolster theirs.

Fridays, with a menu that includes burgers, wings, chicken strips, and an assortment of other delicious animal foods, now says it will join forces with the non-profit organization behind the Meatless Monday campaign. Let that sink in for a moment.

TGI Fridays, a restaurant chain in operation since 1965, will now actively promote – through its social media channels – an organization that hopes to end livestock and meat production, all while selling animal foods to its customers.

Announcing the collaboration, TGI Fridays says through its online promotional activities and social media it has the potential of drawing diverse consumers to the meat-centric chain. A head-scratcher, for sure, but the folks at Meatless Monday are ecstatic.

“We’re excited that TGI Fridays, an iconic global restaurant brand, is leveraging Monday as a day to attract consumers to try Beyond Burger and Friday’s other plant-based selections,” said Dana Smith, Meatless Monday campaign director.

For the record, the Meatless Monday message is: “Skipping meat one day a week is good for you, great for your nation’s health, and better for the planet.”

Reams of gigabytes can be written about why that message is a myth, and there’s plenty of science that shows livestock production can co-exist with environmental stewardship while helping feed a hungry planet. None of which matters to TGI Fridays, of course. They want to sell you a veggie burger on Mondays, and they want you to leave their restaurant feeling all warm and fuzzy that you’ve made a small contribution to saving the planet and ending animal suffering.

None of which could be further from the truth, but then, snake oil has never relied on truth for its effectiveness.

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Spell Check

the good life, NE
1/12/2018 09:47 AM

  Gregg The plant based meat train has left the station. If you want to stand in front of it, you will get run over. I attend the larger food expositions and can guarantee that plant protein and insect protein are here to stay and they will take a portion of the current animal market. To call it snake oil makes you look pretty naïve. Much like the Swiss watch maker that called digital watches snake oil. I don't know why AgWeb is so insistent on telling the consumer, you will get what we grow because we know best, instead of asking, what would you like me to grow? Farmers are so beholden to the needs of Big Ag that they have become poor marketers. I make my farm successful by asking the end user what they want, how they want it grown, and how much do you need. I don't have to worry about pleasing my sponsors.

Greg Henderson
Lenexa, KS
1/12/2018 12:05 PM

  Jim, Kenn: Respectfully, you both missed my point. TGI Fridays is absolutely trying to reach customers who want something other than beef. Yes, plant-based protein is here to stay, and it will slowly take some market share away from beef, pork and poultry. I am not offended by Fridays offering alternative foods to their menu. However, I am offended by their support of Meatless Monday. Adding plant-based foods to a menu is one thing, supporting an effort that spreads misinformation about livestock production - while you are selling livestock-based foods - is hypocrisy. For the record, we support farmers and ranchers in marketing foods and products consumers want - whether that's grass-fed, natural, etc. If you have identified a market and can supply the product - more power to you. But, don't disparage other producers in an effort to create a market for your own products.

Craigville, IN
1/12/2018 07:02 AM

  As you correctly pointed out, Fridays is a private enterprise, responsible only to it's owners. Unlike Big Ag, Fridays has chosen to reach out to a group who may seem an unlikely market for them, and paid attention to their point of view. Instead of Big Ag's approach of "We have science. If you don't agree with us, then you're stupid!" Wow, that's a winning message in the marketplace. Americans know how many times "science" has said one thing and then later says the opposite. They know "science" can be and is driven by who it is that wants to promote a message. Vegans and vegetarians live with and have family members who are not, and when you insult one of their loved ones or family members, you are insulting them too. It's kind of like the NFL sticking their finger in the eye of their fan base and then not understanding the reason their viewership and attendance is down. Agriculture has historically always been terrible marketers. They only consider what they want to produce and then try to cram it down the throat of a consumer. It's never really worked that well, but in an age of boundless choices that are increasing in number at an accelerating pace, it's a poor choice in marketing strategy. Think of the customers first, and how you can fulfill their wants. Remember, the producer exists to fill the needs of the market. The market does not exist to consume the products of the producer.