Oobah Butler is a writer for Vice. He’s also inching his way up my spirit animal totem pole (where there also sits a hotel owner who scolded an entitled “influencer”) Butler, who’s written fake restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor before, wanted to see how far he could take it.
Over seven months, Butler’s restaurant “The Shed” became the number one restaurant in London. With a restaurant as real as the fruitfull farts of newborn unicorns.
How did he do it? He tapped into people’s natural love of novelty. Make something exclusive and impossible to get into, and people want it even more. Instead of offering a traditional menu, he offered “moods” as a way to make The Shed different. Special. Elite. Snobby. Stupid.
I once saw a television program which included blind taste-testing of vodka. Before people were given vodka to taste, they were each asked which vodka they preferred. Everyone said “Grey Goose.” But after the blind taste test, every patron preferred the taste of the cheap house vodka. Grey Goose was their least favorite. It’s an experiment which has been done several times over the years. A quick Google search of “vodka blind taste test” revealed this recent test, with the same results: Grey Goose was voted the least favorite. Even though Grey Goose is the most expensive.
Which often means our choices and opinions are easily swayed by great branding. If something is hard to attain, if it’s expensive, exclusive, and special, it must be better. Right?
Oobah Butler just proved the same with a restaurant no one could get into (because it wasn’t real), based on snobby fake reviews. Once he wanted to conclude his little experiment, he employed actors to enjoy microwavable food, served in someone’s trashy backyard. But so hard was it to get into, people desperately wanted to return to The Shed.
If you ever wonder why companies shovel piles of money into the right branding, wonder no more. If you’re mystified as to how CNN still has viewers, chalk it up to their original reputation as prestigious news.
Before we part ways, here’s a bonus video. It’s Oobah Butler’s interview with “Good Morning Britain.” Notice Susanna Reid’s disapproving countenance:
He didn’t scam anyone, as he got nothing from them. Butler admits he did this because it was hilarious. He didn’t do this out of malice, but out of humor.
Well done, fair sir. Well done.