When it comes to interacting with the public, companies and organizations are expected to be transparent. But how transparent is transparent? That was one important issue raised by a case involving a Chicago restaurant that “duped” social media influencers who were invited to attend a special dinner. The owners of Giant, an upscale restaurant in downtown Chicago, invited a number of journalists and social media influencers to a special seating for the debut of its new menu, “Three Moons.” So far, so good.
However, during the last course of the first seating (there were two), servers brought out plates wrapped in Glad Press ’n Seal and set them on diner’s tables. They then explained that the dinner they had just enjoyed was prepared three days earlier and kept fresh with the aid of the plastic wrap. Hidden cameras were reportedly placed in table centerpieces to record the surprised reactions.
They certainly were surprised. Some attendees reportedly got up and left. Some of those invited to the second seating heard the news and opted out. A few of the social media influencers who attended took to social media. Adam Sokolowski, one of the attendees, posted Giant’s invitation on Instagram (see below). The new menu, according to the invite, was to “continue [Giant’s] theme of honest, unpretentious and delicious food” using “interesting preservation techniques.”
Later it was reported that what took place was a marketing stunt. Glad had reportedly rented the restaurant for the evening (said to cost $10,000) and intended to use the videos from the centerpieces as part of a promotional campaign for Press ’n Seal.
That this seems patently unethical begs the question: Did not someone at Giant or Glad realize that it is bad to invite participants to an event under false pretenses? Did they really think that using the phrase “interesting preservation techniques” was sufficient disclosure? To me, this seems to be a clear case of ill-formed intent: Those involved knew what they were doing and knowingly hid the truth from participants. In other words they were knowingly not transparent. What do you think?
Thanks to Emily Belden for the tip!
Sources: adweek.com, chicago.eater.com, chicagotribune.com