Women are rarely surprised at the bombardment of sexist comments. It’s not shocking to read offensive words online posted by some dude (the YouTube comment section seems to deteriorate the fastest, with people nearly instantly and inexplicably jumping to statements about Hitler and the “she should be in the kitchen” types).
While not shocking, the comments are definitely harmful. When a reviewer casually mentioned that servers at Atomic Grill in Morgantown, West Virginia should “show more skin,” the owner agreed. Sort of.
"It was brutish. I was upset. I’m a father of a 12-year-old girl and I’ve got five sisters," owner Daniel McCawley told ABC News. "The way that women are treated is pretty personal as far as I’m concerned." Rather than engaging in a debate likely to go nowhere, McCawley took positive from the negative; lemonade from lemons; feminism from misogyny. This Memorial Day weekend, Atomic Grill be offering a special on their potato skins, and donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services.
The likes for Atomic Grill are pouring in on their Facebook page. Morgantown has a population of less than 30,000, so to have over 8,000 likes is a noteworthy feat. And reviewers are taking to their keyboards too. With over 1,000 reviews, Atomic Grill’s average rating is a lofty 4.8/5. Nearly 90 per cent of people who have reviewed the Grill gave them five out of five stars, and my guess is, not a lot of them have even eaten there.
Many of the reviews talk about the locally sourced meat or the pulled pork, but a huge number of them pertain to the business’s stance on women’s rights. When McCawley posted his positive spin about the negative review on the company’s Facebook page, he could not begin to imagine the response. “When we come up with an idea like the ‘show us some skin,’ we never in our wildest dreams expected it to take off like this did,” McCawley posted on their Facebook page. “We are humbled and excited that everyone has responded to it so positively. We value our employees as much as our own families, and if we can turn something negative into a positive for our community, then all the better.” Social media is a great equalizer — any size of business can find success (or failure).
Reach for the Stars
Social media creates an avenue for customers to express appreciation for your business, or even something more abstract, like your business ethics. If you are passionate about something, take a stand. Don’t pretend to care about something you don’t, or worse yet, don’t care about something for publicity or marketing sake. Why did Atomic Grill gain so much traction so quickly? Because they came across as honest and concerned — their reaction never seemed like a publicity stunt.