Outback Steakhouse has announced a bold new promotion unprecedented in restaurant history. Unfortunately, it seems to be the product of a very fundamental cultural difference. Its known to executives informally as the “Aborigine Game.”
“We think its very exciting,” said company mouthpiece Nathan Thurm. “Did you ever go to eat out and you order from the menu, and a table near you gets something that looks incredible and you immediately regret your order? Its a terrible feeling. Well, we have a promotion called Aborigine.”
“Now when you’re in that circumstance, if you see someone about to get served a meal that you want, you can just say ‘Aborigine’, and immediately take that meal and their table.”
There was a pause as we waited for additional information from Thurm, but he seemed quite satisfied. There was a bit of a silent standoff.
“What about the people that were getting the meal in the first place,” we asked. “What happens to them?”
Thurm didn’t seem to understand the question at first.
“Who cares,” he said eventually. “They’re Aborigines. You just move them.”
“Wouldn’t that upset customers,” we continued. “Taking their food? And then just forcing them off of their table? They were there first, after all.”
Thurm began to look distressed.
“They’re Aborigines,” he said again, in a firmer tone.
We tried to adjust our line of questioning. Perhaps it was best to investigate their logic further before the interview became adversarial.
“What if the dispossessed table loses their meal and table, and sees a meal they like? Can they claim that meal?”
“No, they can’t,” Thurm said. “At this point they’re Aborigines. You can’t be un-Aboriginied. They are welcome to leave, or perhaps congregate on the edge of the property, but that is all. We’re thinking of starting a kids program to help their children out, but that’s in the beginning phase.”
So far, the promotion has been huge in Australia, but problematic in some other markets.