Opinion

A Fusion of Facebook, Advertising, and Design Redefines the Creepy Birthday Hug

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(screenshot via YouTube)

In what can be optimistically described as a case of something lost in cultural translation, Brazil’s Outback Steakhouse franchise had their American-owned ad agency design an anthropomorphized chair that “hugs” you when you are wished a happy birthday via Facebook. Yes, This is The Way We Live Today (or, rather, Esta é a maneira como vivemos hoje).

The video produced to advertise the new chair, which will apparently be installed in Outback Steakhouses throughout Brazil, is a remarkable feat of people acting nonplussed — amused, even — by the fact that they are sitting in an armchair at Outback Steakhouse, an armchair which happens to caress them with creepy mechanized arms, white-gloved and shriveled as if they were attached to some Mickey Mousoid gremlin or an auctioneer from Hades. The spot features a bunch of smiling twentysomethings doing cool Brazilian things, like being saudade, “Liking” each other on Facebook, getting datamined by American spooks, wearing Abercrombie and Fitch™, and eating whatever it is people eat at Outback Steakhouse, perhaps the 3,000-calorie Bloomin’ Onion®, I don’t know.

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