If you have watched Cable or Satellite television in the U.S. in the past few years you are at least somewhat aware of the Food Network. Not being an avid watcher I am aware of shows like Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped and Diners Drive-Ins, and Dives (Triple D according to host Guy Fieri).
For the record, Food Network is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Television Food Network, G.P., a joint venture between Scripps Networks Interactive and the Tribune Cable Ventures Inc.
As a pioneer in the cable TV industry having been founded in 1993, Food Network has a high brand value and has played an important role in introducing Americans to new approaches and styles regarding cooking, eating, and dining out. One could even say that Food Network is a cutting edge and innovative brand. I feel that way.
Traveling from the airport in Fort Lauderdale recently on a Sunday evening I noticed that there was a Food Network Kitchen restaurant complete with televisions and a bar which actually looked pretty bright and cheery as I walked to my gate.
When my flight was delayed (inevitably) I decided it would be worth a try so I walked in and took a seat at the bar. Football was on TV, what had to be interesting food and drink choices, and I had at least an hour and a half prior to my departure. This was all going to work out pretty well. Until it didn’t.
The first thing I noticed were that the two people behind the counter working there looked bored and unenthused. I could have received that kind of welcome just about anywhere. The menu choices for wine were pedestrian and uninteresting – not exactly representative of a cool brand.
Food choices were even more pedestrian – no interesting twists, options, and sauces. For lack of better choices I chose the chicken quesadilla with guacamole and sour cream. The wine came in a commercial glass and was more expensive than it should have been but that’s endemic to airports for the most part.
Then the food was delivered. A reasonable portion prepared reasonably well and was reasonably edible. I had higher hopes than reasonably edible. The guacamole and sour cream (each $1.00 additional) came in plastic cups and plastic utensils were provided. The whole experience had me thinking cafeteria.
What a buzz kill! What a BRAND kill! WHY? I ask, or WHO perhaps better, should answer the question – what were they thinking when Food Network lent its name to an operator that is representing their brand in this manner. I mean surely nobody from the actual Food Network could be involved in this fiasco right?
I believe there may be another Food Network Kitchen unit in the Hartsfield (Atlanta) airport and I suspect the story is similar. It’s really a simple in-airport sit-down, grab-and-go type restaurant and is about as far away from being an innovative and cutting-edge brand representation as could be possible.
Brands have to keep in mind that when their name is licensed, their brand is as well and doing it incorrectly can yield everlasting brand damage.