If you've ever worked on a restaurant account, and I'm specifically talking to you ad people, you know you have to show the food.
Even though the food in the commercial or print ad looks nothing like the swill you will be served at Chili's, Applebee's or Red Lobster.
In fact, the food you see on TV is often made of plastic or drizzled with some benzene-based liquid that can only be handled by a qualified haz-mat team.
The truth is if you're advertising food, you're in the food porn business.
Many ad agencies find this repulsive and will go to great lengths to build contrived stories around the preparation of the food. Or cheesy testimonials by people who love the food (and the checks they're getting for talking about the food). They'll do anything they have to not to show the food.
And, when they eventually cave in to the demands of the client, they'll have heated arguments with about the food to non-food ratio in the spot.
"Look, it's 17 seconds of food and 13 seconds of people."
"We'd like the spots better if there were 18 seconds of food and 12 seconds of people."
By the way, this is no exaggeration, I've sat in these meetings and witnessed the stopwatch wars.
Years ago, when I was at Y&R, we won the El Pollo Loco account. We turned this well-worn problem into the solution. And embraced the food porn, not as an evil necessity but as a point of differentiation.
We literally filmed citrus-marinated chicken over a flaming grill and captured hours worth of footage from as many different angles as possible. And then used the food footage for the entirety of the spot.
Our reasoning was simple.
First, there wasn't any money in the budget to do a full fledged campaign.
More importantly, we understood the simple stimulus-response mechanics of watching chicken on a grill.
It's impossible to watch and NOT start salivating. Imagine that, restaurant advertising that actually made you hungry.
Apparently that wasn't good enough for our EPL client. Same store sales went up 13.8% in the one year that we had the account. And then, like many stupid clients -- did I say stupid, I meant incredibly fucking moronic -- they put the account up for review.
We did about 75 commercials using the chicken footage. And will immodestly say that every one of those commercials is better than anything El Pollo Loco has put on the air in the last 10 years.
Every one of them.
Here's on my favorites…