Direct Line Blog

He ain't heavy...he's my inflatable Lunch Decoy

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Lunch Decoys: Collect 'em all!
Lunch Decoys: Collect 'em all!

Sometimes it's just hard to get out of the office for lunch. Stomach grumbling, deadlines looming, all there's time for might be a granola bar of questionable vintage foraged from the communal kitchen—which is why Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill's new AOR, created a series of blow-up dolls to help Americans reclaim their god-given right to a sit-down lunch-hour away from their desks.

According to the tongue-in-cheek promo video on the Applebee's site, the lunch decoys (collect all six at for just $6.99 a pop) come in a “variety of colors and genders.” The concept is simple: Buy a doll, sit it down at your desk, Scotch tape a phone receiver to its ear—and your bosses will never know you've gone over to Applebee's for a delicious Pick ‘n Pair lunch of lemon shrimp fettuccine and Caesar salad. Of course it's a joke—no one's going to be fooled by a Lunch Decoy—but that's the point, and it's a joke that resonates.

“You need to eat, you know you need to put food in your body, but how do we take care of that in the modern workday?” says VP/executive creative director Steve Babcock, who helmed the project with Mark Taylor, also VP/ECD. “If someone invented a lunch pill, I guess we'd take it.”

Babcock—who jokes that his own computer keyboard is “full of crumbs and condiments” as a result of too many deskbound lunches—says step one of the creative process was hatching the idea and being blessed with a client brave enough to embrace it.

“The next step was researching blow-up dolls on the Internet,” Babcock says.

The goal was to put something out there that people would instantly rally around and want to share.

“The hope, the idea, was to create something fun and something about the nature of the Lunch Decoy just makes you want to share it,” Taylor says.

And share they did. There was even a photo shared on Facebook (see left) of an FB employee using a Lunch Decoy at the company's Chicago headquarters. [Caption: “Lunch Decoy is getting ready for my lunch break.”]

Sales have been good so far. According to Babcock, the team in charge of production recently sent him a note inquiring about a reprint. Though nothing is set in stone yet, there's even talk of a potentially customizable Lunch Decoy 2.0, Taylor says.

Though Babcock hasn't yet tried out the Lunch Decoy at the CP+B offices, Taylor ordered one and on the day it arrived both happened to uncannily be wearing the same outfit: white shirt, khaki pants, and a tan belt.

“I'm pretty sure he hasn't been back in the office since it arrived,” Babcock says. “It's worked out really well for him. All his accounts are running quite smoothly …”

Taylor interrupted: “Even better than they had been!”

(Chuckles all around.)

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