Note to Red Robin: Don’t Tell Vegetarians They’re Just ‘Going Through a Phase’

The first time we saw the below ad for Red Robin, we half-smirked and half-cringed; though we could tell what the spot was trying to do, we were also very aware that the actual execution sent an all-together different message.

In an attempt to humorously inform parents that Red Robin is a restaurant with a variety of options to please the whole family, its latest TV spot features an actress delivering the line, “We even have a garden burger … just in case your teenage daughter is going through a phase.”

Though we agree with Ad Week that this was likely meant to seem conspiratorial (Your kids are picky and fickle? Mine too!) the line instead comes across as abasing, as if insinuating that vegetarianism — often a complex and long-term lifestyle choice —  is little more than a silly whim akin to other overly-dramatic teenage flights of fancy like boyband crushes.

Sure enough, angry vegetarians took to social media to demand an apology and/or the removal of the commercial. In response, Red Robin’s communications chief, Kevin Caulfield, told the Huffington Post that the ad “is planned to be out of rotation and no longer on the air very soon.”

While it seems to us that this ad’s intentions were lighthearted, it might be a fair rule of thumb that when trying to send a message that your establishment offers options for a variety of customers, you probably shouldn’t tell those customers that their lifestyle choices, which you are boasting to accommodate, are just “a phase.”

That said, we imagine this won’t have too much of a long-term effect on Red Robbin — vegetarians probably aren’t the burger chain’s main source of income.


Publish date: June 21, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT