The folks at Fatburger don't have a lot of money to spend on ads. An outdoor ad here, a radio spot there—a little has to go a long way for the 50-store burger chain. Perhaps that's why they felt such indigestion when they realized that certain "fans" were helping themselves to more than free drink refills and extra ketchup.
A bus shelter ad in Chatsworth, Calif., that read, "Do you really think that man clawed his way to the top of the food chain to eat soy?" recently caught the eye of one hamburglar, who absconded with the poster. A similar crime occurred on the Las Vegas Strip, where thieves made off with a double-sided board that proclaimed, "Losing your money is a lot easier on a full stomach," on one side, and "Gambling, showgirls and Fatburger (Is this a great town or what?)" on the other.
Not ones to take such disrespect lying down, Fatburger and its shops, Mayo Advertising (is that a great fast-food agency name or what?) and Honest Mechanics, retaliated with a special message for those with sticky fingers. They replaced the board in Chatsworth, but not before adding the words, "Stealing is wrong. However, eating crappy burgers from those other guys is the real crime." Also featured on the poster is a notice that reads, "Stolen: Chatsworth & White Oak"—a reference to the intersection where the first ad ran. Taking the stunt a tiny bit further, Fatburger had two of its employees dress up as security guards and stand in front of the sign to ensure its safety.
Of course, guards can't monitor every outdoor ad. What will happen if the pillaging continues? "We'll just put up another one," says Mayo's founder and chief idea officer, Bruce Mayo. "We can't let the bastards get us down!"