Appearing on a popular reality TV show can propel a small-business owner into overnight fame. But for Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Ariz., that fame turned into a marketing disaster.
The eatery and its married owners, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, were recently featured on Fox Network’s Kitchen Nightmares, a show in which celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay spends a week trying to revive a failing restaurant. But once on screen, Amy and Samy didn’t exactly endear themselves to the audience: they were shown pocketing their servers’ tip money, serving store-bought desserts, and badmouthing customers. At one point, Samy is shown yelling at a customer who complains about waiting an hour for a pizza. “If anyone tells me my wife’s food is no good I tell them not to come back,” Samy tells the audience, according to The Daily Beast.
Things got so bad that chef Ramsay ultimately decided he couldn’t rescue the business.
Since the May 10 airing, customers and viewers have inundated the bakery’s Facebook page, Yelp profile and Reddit with critical remarks about the business. Making matters worse, Amy and Samy have responded by posting outraged messages lambasting their customers on their Facebook account. One message on the bakery’s Facebook read: “This is Samy. I am keeping note of all names here. We will be pursuing action against you legal[l]y, and against [R]eddit and [Y]elp, for this plot you have come together on. [Y]ou are all just punks.”
The Bouzaglos now claim their social media accounts were hacked and that they didn’t post those messages. Many of the messages have since been deleted.
The whole episode is a lesson on how not to handle a reality TV appearance and social media—and to make sure in advance that your business will actually benefit from such publicity. While Amy and Samy’s is an extreme case of reality TV regret, it’s not necessarily that uncommon for businesses featured on such shows to come off in a not-so-flattering light. Many reality TV shows unearth the grim “realities” of businesses they feature—that's what reels in the audience and the ratings, after all. And businesses appearing on TV don’t always realize the impression they make on air until they watch the edited show. Sometimes appearing on reality TV can be a great decision. On the other hand, it can also be a costly mistake.
Photos from top: iStockphoto; Fox via hulu.com