The hospital-themed restaurant Heart Attack Grill has been in the news lately. Two heart attack deaths of frequent “patients” have gotten a lot of publicity for this Las Vegas food establishment, where a limited menu of extremely unhealthy foods is served. But is the publicity they are receiving a result of great branding or terrible food?
Great branding doesn’t need to consist of award-winning design or even ethical design. It needs to be memorable and unique. Heart Attack Grill’s limited, outlandish menu consists of items that are ‘cooked in pure lard,’ making it a unique place for some of Las Vegas’ 39 million annual visitors; even if some unfortunately die in its wake. The restaurant is a perfect fit for Las Vegas, a city where gluttony rules and you have to be over the top to stand out.
The branding starts on the restaurant’s exterior where the oversized sign advertises that “OVER 350 LBS EATS FREE.” Once entering the restaurant, you are greeted by scantily clad women dressed as nurses. Once escorted to your table, you are given a hospital gown and officially become “patients” at the Heart Attack Grill. The mayhem continues with their menu of artery-clogging foods with names for hamburgers and French fries that drive cardiologists crazy. If you opt for their two-pound, 9,983 calorie hamburger and do not finish it, you get three paddle spanks from a “nurse.” If you do finish it, you’re pushed out to your car in a wheelchair while tourists on Fremont Street take photos of you. All of these outlandish events echo their brand loud and clear. It’s an example of branding gone wild.
What’s positive about this brand?
The brand strategy is simple, actually. Skimpy nurse outfits in Las Vegas (not very unique in this city), incredibly unhealthy food, and a consistent tourist “experience” that is pushed to the media with shock value and an oddly unique brand. You can’t deny that for one beat.
So has the branding gone too far for Heart Attack Grill? I’d say “no” for the branding part. It’s memorable and sparks the curiosity of many people. However, I’d have to say “yes” for the sake of a healthy America and for publicizing the unfortunate deaths and heart attacks of their “patients.” You’ll love to hate it. I’m curious to hear what you have to say. Do you think the Heart Attack Grill’s branding has gone too far? Post a comment to the Enzo Creative Facebook page here.