Hooters Free Food: Mother's Day Wings for Mom Aimed at Battling Perceptions

Image: Hooters Free Food: Mother's Day Wings for Mom Aimed at Battling Perceptions

Saturday, 11 May 2013 10:13 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Hooters is hoping free food is the answer a riddle few even knew existed. How do you get mom into a restaurant where scantily clad young women bounce between tables with Buffalo wings in one hand and beer in the other, on Mother's Day no less?

On Sunday, May 12, Hooters will offer free food to mothers — up to $10 — in honor of Mother's Day. All she has to do to qualify for the promotion is bring her child and buy a drink.

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The 30-year-old chain also recently began offering entrée salads in an attempt to appeal more to women, who have traditionally been a difficult demographic to attract. Many view the restaurant's sex-driven theme as demeaning.

"It's like offering Weight Watchers customers a free meal with dessert at The Cheesecake Factory," consultant Linda Lipsky told USA Today. "There are enough calories in most of their desserts for 50 percent or more of your daily allowance. Giving it free doesn't make it any better."

Hooters' Chief Marketing Officer Dave Henninger did not agree with Lipsky's analogy.

"It's not as diabolical as you think," Henninger said. "We know you don't think of Hooters as a typical place to take Mom, but we want to make it more appealing for Mom to come in."

Henninger added that all five of Hooters' new entree salads are less than $10, which qualifies the meals for the promotion.

In addition to the salads, Hooters has their trademark wings.

In 2012, Hooters gave away free wings to approximately 15,000 mothers on their special day. In 2013, Henninger says that number will likely increase to 20,000 moms.

According to the marketing chief, two years ago, just one in four of Hooters' customers were female, whereas last year that ratio improved to about one in three.

Despite the improving numbers, critics remain skeptical.

"For a woman to walk into a place called Hooters, that new Cobb salad had better be awfully good," Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, tells USA Today.

Hooters, isn't the only restaurant chain appealing to moms on Mother's Day with freebies.

The international yogurt franchise TCBY will offer free small cups of yogurt, O'Charley's and Shoney's is offering free slices of pie, and McCormick & Schmick's is giving mothers free truffles.

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