Saturday, September 11, 2004

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The foreign direct investment of Hooters


Jon Bonné reports in MSNBC that the Hooters restaurant chain is not only expanding to the skies and casinos -- it is also busting out beyond American borders:

With all those reports of call centers heading off to India, one U.S. brand intends to tap into the subcontinent's growing prosperity. Hooters is exporting its controversial brand of home-grown sex appeal.

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain, known more for its scantily-clad female servers than its rib-sticking menu, this week announced it signed a deal to open several Indian franchise locations, though it has not said where....

"I am looking forward to the 'recreation' of this dining atmosphere," Sunil Bedi, Managing Director of franchisee H.O.I. Pvt. Ltd., said in a statement....

Hooters' expansion is the latest sign that U.S. businesses have awoken to the potential of the Indian middle class and its growing disposable income, said Jagdip Ahluwalia, executive director of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston.

"We've got Domino's there, we've got McDonald's there, we've got all these brands out there," Ahluwalia said. "There is a window of opportunity that’s open. And if we don’t grab that opportunity, Europe will."

Hooters already has a strong global presence with some 370 restaurants, including 26 overseas locations in such places as Austria, Guatemala, Singapore and Taiwan. This is its first location in South Asia, where more modest sensibilities often prevail. But it has aggressive plans for further expansion -- including its first restaurant in China, due this fall, three restaurants in Thailand and elsewhere.

"We're going to continue to fill out Latin America," said [vice president of marketing for Hooters of America Mike] McNeil.

I can already visualize the impending Naomi Klein column, heaving with brand outrage -- of course, Klein has had her own problems as of late.

posted by Dan on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM


The gals are adorable, but watch out as the years go on . . . you would never, but dirty old manhood happens.

posted by: Sissy Wiillis on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Can we have more coverage like this in the future, Drezner. Thanks.

posted by: taspundit on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Tee hee hee.... You said busting.

posted by: ATM on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

When I read about this a week or two ago, why reaction was "brilliant... absolutely brilliant."

If you've ever been to India, you'll know that the REAL way to make money in India is to satisfy the "needs" of the massive number of horndogs who can't keep their hands to themselves in a crowd.

Screw software -- Hooters is where the REAL business growth in India will be

posted by: Adam on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Will Hooters be attacked for outsourcing if US servers aren't hired to go to India?

posted by: Mike Lech on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Perfect example of the bi-directional effects of globalism -- distributing the wealth creation opportunity (as opposed to the wealth itself) also distributes the demand for goods and services. The plantation protectionists that want to keep all the creation power here and just throw charity over the wall would never distribute so much capital that it would actually create more opportunities abroad.

posted by: Ursus on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

I'm not sure which "plantation protectionists" you mean (Buchanan?) but the objectionisn't to overseas investment; the objection is to to moving large numbers of jobs overseas.

Opening a Hooters in India does not mean closing a Hooters in the US. No jobs are lost here.

Moving an entire industry's customer service center to India does, and did, mean closing the service center here. Jobs are, and were, lost here - by the thousands, in this case.


posted by: CaseyL on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

What a cheap, Instapundit-like shot on Naomi Klein. Her only "problems as of late" seem to be that somebody didn't like something she wrote. But that's a "problem" she shares with millions of writers around the world, Daniel Drezner included.

posted by: Comment on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

"We're going to continue to fill out Latin America[.]"

Hehe, priceless choice of words.

posted by: Mark V. on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

This might be the time to invest in any company making depilatories that has a franchise in india.

posted by: stari_momak on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Can you imagine anybody getting mad about this trend?

I dare some Islamofacists oppose a hooters in Arabia land?

That would be as reprehensible an a Christofacist opposing nakedness in films.

Onward progess. Onward corporations. Onward brave new world.

posted by: koreyel on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

soft porn sold with burgers. and people call this 'women's lib'.

progress of a sort, I guess.

posted by: zm on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

"somebody didn't like something she wrote"

Well, I suppose, if her problem were that one person didn't care for her fantasies of importing jihad to America, that might apply. I think more than a few people found that objectionable, though.

Next thing you know, she'll be asking random Afghanis to beat her up or something.

posted by: Chris Lawrence on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Chris -

My point wasn't if ms Klein's opinions are valid or not. My point was that mr Drezner did the cheap Instapundit trick: linking to an article with a snide (and irrelevant) remark, and counting on that the majority of his readers don't bother to actually read the original article.

posted by: Comment on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

What the world needs more of is Waffle House.

Imagine Germany with Waffle Houses open at 3AM!

posted by: spoon on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Maybe Dan threw this out there as a nugget of comic relief amidst the usual heavy slog of outsourcing and globalization articles. Afraid I'm gonna spoil the party by raising some serious questions.

First of all, I'm wondering who exactly is going to staff these Indian Hooters. Are we importing western girls or hiring locals? The former would be sure to bring in lots of male customers, even at the fairly obscene prices you would have to charge to get western women to sign on. But then you have to deal with the inevitable ruckus about western immorality. Even if Hooters "girls" remained chaste as the driven Himalayan snow, they would contribute to popular perceptions (based on extensive "deep reading" of American cultural products like BayWatch) that white women are basically whores. If this is the price of globalizing chains like Hooters count me in the protectionist circle of critics.

On the other hand, if you hire locals who is going to sign on? My guess would be surplus sex workers, or sws looking to go "straight." If "nice Indian girls" sign on, my prediction would be you will eventually read about family members attacking them for bringing shame on the whole. You will almost certainly have a backlash against American culture corrupting good, wholesome Indian society through its women (to say nothing of the families destroyed by the husband's "addiction" to the local franchise).

This whole thing is not something to be laughed off. It took American culture about 2 generations to "progress" to the point where Hooters girls are not (necessarily) equated with hookers or strippers. I know, I know, they're all college students paying tuition on their tips. We're asking South Asian society, which is starting from a much more gender stratified base (putting it mildly) to get there in about a decade. It will not fly, and we should not encourage or make light of it.

Gloomy gus, over and out.

posted by: Kelli on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Islamists aren't going to like this development.

posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

Hooters will definitely sell in India- but what the franchisors have to keep in mind - is that they will have a tough time finding local girls who will work there. I am Indian, born in Chicago, and I know that the clothes the waitresses wear are acceptable here. But in India, girls are not going to wear outfits like that - and the ones who will wear them, won't look good in them.
The girls who have the bodies and faces to wear the cute Hooters outfits are in the movies, they are not going to "waitress", cause in India, waitressing in that outfit would be "trashy", and so why would they do that??
The franchisors are going to have to "import" waitresses into India, which might seriosuly impact their budget.

posted by: Shiel on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

No,no, no -- the former soviet bloq has a huge surplus of hot women who can pass as 'western' (actually some of the blondest places on earth are in the FSU -- they don't call Belarus 'White russia' for nothing. Already these women are taking bargirl jobs from our own fine Young lasses in places like Tokyo and Seoul. Now they can do it in India.

Globalization -- it really does work! The scales have fallen from my eyes!

posted by: stari_momak on 09.11.04 at 05:35 PM [permalink]

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