In a cheeky “up-yours” to employers who have downsized the lunch hour, Applebee’s is pushing forward with its Lunch Decoy ad campaign. In a scarily-eighties-feeling infomercial, the restaurant chain encourages corporate drones and blue collar folks to deploy “industrial-strength” blow-up dolls to stand in for them while they take their lunch breaks. This new line of dolls, which are indeed for sale on Amazon, are said to be able to withstand everything from annoying co-workers to ninja attacks.
It’s part of Applebee’s rebranding efforts in the last couple of years, as current president Mike Archer tries to freshen up the chain’s image. Archer is trying to encourage people to think of Applebee’s as more than a Friday night celebration place for the unabashedly uncool. He wants it to be a place for people to pop off to lunch several times a week. But he still doesn’t seem to mind the uncool label, as the ad is cute, but not edgy, in tone, mimicking an eighties commercial with only a hint of snark.
Perhaps the most subversive part of this ad is that it is hard to think of lifelike blow-up dolls without thinking of other models used for…more carnal uses. Indeed, it seems this ad is part of a simmering movement to put clothes back on sex dolls. The Daily Beast, the hipper form of Newsweek, recently featured a series of photos from an artist who clothes sex dolls and puts them in eerily lifelike home settings. Perhaps clothes will become the new form of kinkiness, since we’ve done everything else we could without them as a society?
As a parting shot, here is a 7th-grade-dirty ditty about dolls from Sting and his backup band from the eighties. Enjoy and try not to snicker the next time you go to Applebee’s.