“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
“Lasagna’s not a dish, windbag. It’s a way of life. A state of being one’s perfect achievement. What did the Indians serve to the Pilgrims? Lasagna. What did Marie Antoinette scream to the rebels? ‘Let them eat lasagna.’ What did Neil Armstrong say when he landed on the moon? ‘That’s one small slice of lasagna.’ It’s not a dish. It’s the stuff of dreams.”—Garfield, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
Despite the poor shape that the world is in, people are quick to find things to laugh at collectively—especially when it’s related to brand marketing. It’s something that brings us together. After all, if we have to spend our lives inundated with ads, shouldn’t we be able to skewer them? Recent history is littered with stories of brand marketing gone wrong. For example, take Mr. Peanut’s untimely death or Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad. Of course, these tend to be blips on the radar of an already well-established brand. Instead, imagine a tie-in marketing project so completely and holistically absurd that it transfixed an entire city—only to quietly close just a little over a year after opening? This is the strange story of GarfieldEATS.
A Big Fat Hairy Deal
Of course, the story of the GarfieldEATS restaurant in Toronto was many things to many people. First, though, we should refer to the list of things that owner Nathen Mazri touted GarfieldEATs as:
- “world’s first Garfield-themed restaurant”
- “first quick mobile restaurant for Garfield themed-food”
- “world’s first Garfield-shaped pizza”
- “first entergaging quick mobile restaurant”
- “world’s first entergaging mobile app resraurant (sic)”
When GarfieldEATS opened, it had so much going for it. First, a hubristic tech guy hoping to “disrupt” something. Second, an extremely heavy-handed brand tie-in. Then there was the food of questionable quality. Add in some Marketing Jargon™ (“entergaging,” “farm to plate,”), not to mention Toronto’s penchant for stupid fads. Also, an unusable single-use food delivery app in a sea of food-delivery apps. And the cherry on top? A hyped-up opening. Let’s not forget its slogan, a misquote from the 2004 Garfield movie: “Love me, feed me, don’t leave me.” Truly, it was like it had fallen out of the absurd tree and hit every branch of the way down.