When Marketing Goes Too Far

If you haven’t heard of The Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Arizona (about 15 minutes from Pheonix), they’re the guys behind the massive burgers and fries that created quite a buzz with their marketing techniques. They offer free food to anyone over 350 lbs, they serve heart stopping meals with no remorse, their waitresses are dressed as nurses and the owner walks around as a “Doctor” with a stethoscope hanging around his neck.



The whole thing was meant to be tongue and cheek. Sure, everyone knows that eating these meals are unhealthy and shouldn’t be part of a normal diet…right? Taking it to a new level, “Dr. Jon” got a 575-pound man, Blair River, to be the spokesperson for his restaurant.

So how did this all go wrong? Well on Tuesday, March 1st, Blair passed away at the young age of 29. At 6-foot-8 and 575 pounds he wasn’t the least bit the image of health. The cause of death hasn’t been released but friends are speculating that it was the result of his contracting pneumonia after a bout with the flu.

In previous interviews, Blair has stated that he is a regular customer at the Heart Attack Grill and that he usually eats a couple of burgers, two servings of fries and a Coke.

Personally I feel that the owner and the restaurant have gone too far in their marketing approach and took advantage of someone that they would not have otherwise exploited if it wasn’t just all a marketing tactic. My question is when does the responsibility get put on the restaurant for their shameless advertising? Sure it’s always up to an individual to decide what to put into their body but we all know that endorsements push us towards those decisions.

It’s very unfortunate that River passed at such a young age. I can just hope that good comes from this in the form of more ethical advertising as far as not offering things that are blatantly unhealthy or not well for the consumer as something “good”. Especially in a humorous or mocking matter.

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