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I have been working on this video for like two years, I think about Mr. Delicious at least once a week. He sells aluminum siding, but also goes to Bora Bora workers? Maybe? He's on his second marriage. He spends too much time at a bar called The Rusty Anchor. He is both effete and signals that he is wealthy while also being working-class? He also likes to read ROMANCE NOVELS WHILE EATING RAX?! So I guess that's what in the suitcase???

You can watch the full Mr. Delicious documentary here:

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Book club:
Good morning, John.  You and I grew up going to Rax.  It was for the days when we'd been good, when Wendy's wasn't good enough, when it was time to split a cookie so soft and gooey that you could push it back together and it would stay that way.  Rax was a roast beef place, like Arby's, except that it was constantly undergoing identity crises and it had no idea what it wanted to be.  

Mostly, in their advertising, they just wanted to make the case that they somehow weren't like the other major fast food chains.  Here's one of the most successful attempts to do that, implying people are oppressed because they can only get one kind of chicken sandwich.  At Rax, you can get an Eenie, Meenie, and a Minie.  

Commercial: Eenie, Meenie, and Minie, where's Mo?  
There ain't no mo'.

Oh, you tried so hard to make that work!  Many of their ads tried excluding demographics to make it more appealing to their core audience, except that they always then like, pushed back against it.  Here's a good example.  Rax: It's good for adults and also kids, but only kids who act like they're adults.  

There are lots of bad Rax ads.  There's one where a phone eats a sandwich, which features Yoga Jones from Orange is the New Black.  This one, with the giant chicken foot, and then there's one where a woman wants a pita pocket with a meatball in it and she explodes.  

Commercial: Pocket to me, baby!

Ads were bad in the '80s and '90s and these are all your normal bad ad fare, but as Rax continued to lose focus and market share with an All-You-Can-Eat pasta bar, upgraded interiors, getting into pizza for some reason.  They went all in on the worst idea ever: Mr. Delicious.

Commercial: Hello.  I'm Mr. Delicious, the new spokesman for Rax Resaurants.  My job?  To encourage you to enjoy tasty, affordable meals in a more mature dining environment.

He's like a low-energy Rodney Dangerfield.  He is a sad man.

Commercial: And that vacation you took to Bora Bora with those two young friends, well, that left Mr. Delicious feeling empty and unfulfilled.

No, you need to explain!

Commercial: Mr. Delicious just had some rather delicate surgery.  If there's no change, he doesn't have to squirm so much to put it back in his pocket.

Did we just hear about Mr. Delicious's vasectomy?

Commercial: Because his analyst charges a lot to keep Mr. D's hostility all locked up.

Wait, what?

Commercial: And Mr. Delicious always carries his briefcase.

Mr. D, what's in the briefcase?  And all of this is paired with the worst or possibly best tag line in all of fast food history.  Rax: You can eat here.

I think there's an element of parody here, like, you can eat here is definitely a parody of a tag line.  Mr. Delicious is a parody of what a spokesperson is.  He's not fun, he's not happy, he's not engaging, but they're also trying to do a thing.  They're trying to identify with a core audience, but who is that audience?  It's fast food for grown-ups, misogynist, unfunny, alcoholic, sad grown-ups who gamble too much and go to psychotherapy?

Now, the wonderful thing here is we have a lot of insight into Mr. Delicious because the ad agency and the management of Rax worked together to create a mini-documentary about how successful Mr. Delicious was.

Bill Underhill: Mr. Delicious speaks honestly to the kinds of problems and issues that we all face.

I mean, does he?  I don't feel like he does!   Who is the target market for this 15 minute mini-doc?  One assumes it was the Rax franchisees who were, I'm sure, livid that the company was being mismanaged so dramatically.

Commercial: Usually I go to the can during the commercial, but now when Mr. D's on, I'll just hold it.  Mr. Delicious reminds me of my dad.

It's somewhat telling that the 15 minute long pro-Mr. Delicious propaganda documentary they put together included this line: 

Commercial: Mr. Delicious is obnoxious.

Oh my God.  Rax filed for bankruptcy less than a year after the launch of Mr. Delicious, making the confidence of this statement:

Commercial: He's absolutely going to go down as one of the classic characters in advertising history.

seem just a little off the mark.  Now Rax had a ton of problems and Mr. Delicious didn't cause all of them.  It was a cut-throat time in the fast food industry, but whatever gamble these people decided they had to make, it went even worse than Mr. D's trip to Reno.

John, I'll see you tomorrow.