Hooters, the original "breastaurant" chain, this weekend will begin pushing its 30th birthday campaign that includes inviting back 300,000 former waitresses to celebrate on Oct. 4 in its 400-odd locations. Maybe the women who show up will be scantily clad in their old work uniforms, maybe they won't. Either way, the brand hopes they snap Instagram photos and post them with the hashtag #stepintoawesome.
"We've had amazing growth on Instagram," said Dave Henninger, CMO of the Clearwater, Fla.-based company. "It's a big part of our marketing mix going forward."
Hooters and the photo-sharing site seems like a natural fit—just as other male-focused brands that promote female sex appeal such as Esquire are embracing Instagram. Henninger's team has garnered 29,000 Instagram followers in only the last few months by leveraging the aforementioned #stepintoawesome.
Hooter's birthday TV spots will appear during Fox broadcasts of college and pro football games throughout today and Sunday. Additionally, its 15-second spots will run roughly 100 times between now and next Friday, per its CMO. The brand is also rolling out a new logo and wants to reshape public perception, though other rebranding details are few.
"We want to be relevant to even more people," Henninger said. "We want more people to feel more comfortable coming through those doors."
For months, Hooters has teased out the idea that it's going to change its waitresses' well-known white-low-cut-tanktop-orange-shorts ensemble. And despite Henninger's comments hinting that the upcoming uniforms may be more family-friendly, it's still unclear what direction the brand is going.
"Hooters girls are the epicenter of the brand," he said. "So of course, the way we evolve the uniform will be timeless and instantly recognizable. … An example might be to remove or evolve the socks the girls wear. Those socks are from the '80s. They aren't very current. We are looking at the bottoms, of course. We're looking at new fits, styles and materials. It's an important journey, and we're not going to rush it."
Moving forward, on Oct. 4, it will give away free wings for a year to one consumer on the East Coast and another on the West Coast. In the meantime, to promote its 30th birthday, its ads will highlight 30 percent off merchandise and menu items all through next week.
"We will be posting on Facebook and tweeting the whole time," Henninger added. "We are pushing harder and harder into digital marketing."