T.G.I. Friday’s Doesn’t Turn Me On

Food and sex are often linked in advertising. That should come as a surprise to nobody. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food, water and sex are some of the basic human needs essential for survival as a species. When these fundamental needs are met, humans can focus on other aspects, such as security, love, and self-esteem. From a hard science perspective, dopamine is a neurotransmitter released in the brain in response to pleasurable experiences such as eating or sexual activity. Dopamine can also be released from the use of drugs and alcohol, strengthening the arguments that food and sex addictions are real, and not just “a lack of self-control”.

I’m going to show two examples of the food/sex connection that stood out for me. They’re both for the same restaurant chain, Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. The first is from 2005, and features Paris Hilton during the time she was famous for some reason. The second is from 2009, and has super hot Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi eating a burger sensually.

So there you go. I’m sure there’s other examples featuring hunky, shirtless men, but frankly I’m not dying to track them down. We all know the adage “sex sells”. I would argue that it isn’t necessarily “sex sells”, but more “sex gets attention”. Take an example from one of the more popular posts on this blog: a SoBe commercial featuring supermodel Kate Upton. At first glance, the commercial only seems to prove the attractiveness of Kate Upton. But upon further examination it does more. There is no way I would have been aware of “SoBe Mango Melon”, but with this ad, I can now say “hey, that’s the Kate Upton stuff”. Am I going to buy it? Probably not. But at least I know it’s there. And awareness is half of the battle. If you need anotherĀ  tangible example, check out a restaurant menu, whether in-person or online. You’ll see vivid pictures, often accompanied with suggestive words such as “slathered”, “smothered”, and “drizzled”. Obviously, these are consumer products, so it’s important that they look their best. But it’s not much of a stretch to call restaurant menus porn for the fat and hungry. Here’s an interesting article about some of the dirty little tricks of food photography.

That brings me to my original focus, which is actually anti-climactic at this point. First, the facts. T.G.I. Friday’s, seller of tasty burgers and other life-shortening comfort food, has introduced a number of new entrees inspired by beer. The focus is on regional craft brews which vary by state. My suspicion was that there was consumer demands for more microbrews, and that’s backed up by the linked article’s finding that sales of craft beers increased in 2010, while sales of national brands were slightly down.

Now, the commercial. I had actually written the majority of this entry before finding this one. I was disappointed to discover that it wasn’t the same one I had seen. This ad doesn’t feature any scantily-clad women, but the sex is in the vocals. The one I saw was longer, with more over-the-top narration and more female background moans. I hope I can get it online soon, because it’s way more ridiculous. But you’ll just have to settle for this one. Harpoon is the beer advertised, so it must be from New England. Turn your speakers up!

Bonus links: The extended versions (i.e. racier) of the Carl’s Jr. commercials. Plus, one featuring Kim Kardashian!

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