Friday, May 26, 2006

Hooters: an American success story

Hooters GirlsHooters succeeds by catering to the tastes of men. For more than 20 years, the famous restaurants have provided girls, finger food, and beer for millions of happy customers. Like Wal-Mart, Hooters appeals to the common man (if not the common woman) with a simple strategy well carried out.

The original Hooters restaurant was opened in Clearwater, Florida by 6 partners. Beer, chicken wings, and girls (not necessarily in that order) proved to be a winning formula. The "delightfully tacky yet unrefined" business was born, and the Hooters Girls became a phenomenon.

According to Restaurants and Institutions trade magazine, Hooters is the 43rd largest restaurant chain in the nation. 2004 sales were $834 million from 388 outlets. You can read more about the company history in this article from Fortune.

SELLING HOOTERS

Hooters' promotions certainly aren't limited to the usual ads and a website. No, this is a business that uses every avenue to raise awareness. It has its own Hooters Magazine, featuring photos of the girls. There are local events at the restaurants, an Ultimate Bachelor Party Give-Away, and a Hooters MasterCard.

The Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant is a natural promotion for this company. It's been held every year since 1997. Winners of local contests across the nation feed into the international finale in Las Vegas. The events are even used to recruit new Hooters Girls to work at the restaurants.

Hooters' sexy promotional vehicles sell the business, not the models. Only the girls' first names are used in the magazine and on the website. The message is that it's not about a specific woman -- the Hooters Girls are generic examples of what you can see at the business.

Hooters does sports too. It's the national title sponsor of the NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour. Alumni of the successful development tour include successful golfers Lee Janzen, John Daly, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman, David Toms, and Scott McCarron. Media coverage of the tour includes local television, tournament scores in USA Today and other major newspapers, and in golf magazines.

In auto racing there's the Hooters Pro Cup Series (great name). The series consists of 30 stock car races on paved oval tracks.

GROWING HOOTERS

Hooters Air stopped flying in March, but the company continues to explore opportunities outside the restaurant business. A much more sensible fit is the new Hooters Casino in Las Vegas, which opened February 2, 2006. The 696-room casino hotel with nine restaurants is a complete renovation of the former San Remo Casino. The company hopes to draw from 61 million annual loyal customers at its locations around the world. Almost every inch of the casino has been rebranded.

The Hooters Casino is sure to appeal to blue collar men who aren't comfortable in the expensive, fancy hotels and casinos that have sprouted in Las Vegas. They're the same guys that have always liked Hooters.

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