Table No 5 backtracks: How sincere is the eatery's 'apology' for its misogyny?

Table No 5 backtracks: How sincere is the eatery's 'apology' for its misogyny?

Islamabad-based restaurant Table No 5 sparked off a social media controversy for its misogynistic marketing campaign
Updated 12 Nov, 2015

Table No. 5, the nondescript Islamabad restaurant currently in the news for all the wrong reasons, is located very close to my house. I had been meaning to try it out until I was alerted to their remarkably offensive marketing campaign.

Kudos to Girls at Dhabas for propelling this conversation forward. As the backlash steadily built up, I hated to think Table No. 5 was getting all this attention and publicity. Having said that, I wasn't expecting them to respond in any way other than their persistent cockiness.

So I was quite surprised when they posted an apology on their Facebook page yesterday evening and announced they were in the process of revising the names of certain items on their menu.

It makes you wonder though what led to them changing their tune. I find it hard to believe that they suddenly realized they are wrong when only a few weeks ago (before this whole issue blew up) their responses went something like this:

Have they finally realized that their marketing strategy was an incredibly poor business decision from the get go?

A marketing mess-up

As a new business in the food industry, and that too in Islamabad, I’d imagine the smartest strategy would be to reach out to as many potential customers as possible rather than actively trying to exclude half of them.

One thing is clear, though: the owner(s) genuinely seem to have thought this was an incredibly clever idea and that they’d get away with it.

It’s one thing to claim that their marketing strategy is cheeky, funny or harmless, and just a joke. In a culture and society where such ‘jokes’ are unfortunately common and largely acceptable, I was angry but not shocked.

But their menu wasn't fooling anybody. Though it has since been taken down and is being revised, here’s a section of the menu:

These names aren't very creatively disguised, so I’m sure it’s pretty clear who these men are.

Table No. 5 can feign innocence all they want, but did they seriously think people wouldn't realise that every one of their sandwiches has a poorly-disguised similarity to a well-known proponent of abuse against women.

Yet, the eatery insists that its critics are overreacting and jumping to conclusions.

That’s not simply sexist then. That’s a whole other level of offensive because besides alienating half of their potential customer base, they also assume that everybody who comes across their menu is stupid. Here's another example of their misogynistic advertising:

As for their backtracking yesterday, first came this post, which I really can't take seriously. The fact that they had to explicitly list things like “no misogyny”, “feminist friendly”, and “not offensive”, illustrates how they continue to be lightyears away from grasping the point. Is it that hard for Table No. 5 to come up with an inclusive and inviting marketing campaign without having to remind themselves not to be offensive?

This again made me question the ‘sincerity’ of this apology, which sounds like it’s directed at the “aggravated...population of dedicated Facebook activists” who have “won this round”. Again, Table No. 5 misses the point. They still don’t realize what they did wrong and why people are so upset, despite countless comments on Facebook attempting to do so. Their marketing campaign offended a lot of people but they seem to think the backlash is a result of a handful of crazy feminists out to get them.

I’m not going to change my mind about boycotting the restaurant just because they seem to be turning over a new leaf. I’m not fooled by this half-hearted ‘apology’; the damage has been done.


U Ahmad Nov 12, 2015 12:27pm
Issues which just take up our time for no purpose. The resturant will pay the price and face consuquences if the promotional campaign is not appropriate. Why we should waste our time on going through such articles and news items.
Lol Nov 12, 2015 12:45pm
I think the writer is a women.
Asad Nov 12, 2015 12:53pm
I have been trying to say this in public, thanks to this article, that unfortunately in our society people need to be more polite. In general we need to learn to say sorry and be more empathetic to others.
NO ONE Nov 12, 2015 02:50pm
Never tried that eatery before, but that's some serious offense in their menu and ads... I am not buying what u sell.
Imran Jiwani Nov 12, 2015 03:16pm
If we visit this place it will be proved they have done nothing wrong. Its us who are stupid enough to go to such places. Women deserve equal respect/rights. Hate people who abuse their physical strength against women. Boycott this place. Tell your friends and families not to go there. Spread the word.
Hammad Haider Nov 12, 2015 03:29pm
No publicity is bad publicity. I like their way of marketing. The feminists should stop digging a mountain out of a mole hill. Surely going here for a sandwich soon.
Ravish Ali Nov 12, 2015 03:51pm
Disgusting! Shame on them
shehzy Nov 12, 2015 03:58pm
I think their strategy has worked. The more they are talked about the more they get famous or infamous. Now after the fame they just need a simple apology. And obviously we'll forgive or forget.
Abu.Ashhad Nov 12, 2015 05:27pm
I mean whats a fuss about it ... there are two ways to resolve the matter. first table 5 will change the menu or women will change themselves :P On serious note - please take the lighter side and enjoy the sandwich ... if there are some attributes associated with women and they are using it as marketing campaign ... so i think women are overreacting in that particular case.
usman warraich Nov 12, 2015 05:30pm
No offence to the writer! but i guess the "eatery" in question has succeeded in their campaign in pure capitalistic sense, i.e. all that matters is MONEY!
Omer Nov 12, 2015 06:51pm
About time that our society grows up and understands what is not tolerable, acceptable or cool for human beings to live together in mutually undestructive ways, from this travesty of coolness to honor killings. These are expressions of the same mindset. Great move to call this out!
amber Nov 12, 2015 07:58pm
@Hammad Haider agree with you. And I am a woman. We shoukd let the men have their sandwiches anywhere they want. Cheer up people: have a sense of humour.
HJ Nov 12, 2015 08:03pm
They wanted attention, they got it. What a low ethics level to get that. Shame.
Hamaad Nov 12, 2015 08:27pm
The more one talks about this eatery the more popular they get. Ignore them and boycott them silently. It seems they thrive on publicity.
Faraz Nov 12, 2015 10:06pm
Shrewd marketing strategy, they got the publicity they wanted. Now they are famous.
Muhammad Arshad Nov 12, 2015 10:39pm
lol, thats actually very interesting, it seems marketing teams in Pakistan are getting very creative
Kush Nov 12, 2015 11:53pm
Their marketing pitch was really funny :D
independentthinker Nov 12, 2015 11:57pm
Whether they apologized or not, whether they meant it or it was just for fun - whatever the case may be, there is something called "Respect" and for them to go as far as they did on this issue, displays that they don't respect half our population. The only people who would eat there, are those who share such views and personally, I would not only boycott it, I was start a petition to have them shut down - as there is no place for them in society.
Rabia Shah Nov 13, 2015 01:07am
@Abu.Ashhad You really think its an overreaction? these ppl are openly celebrating men who are rapists and abusers of women. In what world is that funny? Just take a minute to think about it. Thanks.
Ahmer Nov 13, 2015 02:54am
Lighten up.. they are still jokes whether you like them or not...
Fatima Nov 13, 2015 07:56am
@Hammad Haider And people like you are part of the reason why Pakistan is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman in. Thank you, ppl like you prove that we need feminism.
Fatima Nov 13, 2015 07:57am
Some of the comments here prove why we need 'angry' feminists - and why Pakistan is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman in.
Fatima Nov 13, 2015 08:12am
Thanks for writing this.
saifullah mahsud Nov 13, 2015 11:25am
Might not be palatable to some but their marketing strategy works. They will have to back this up with good sandwiches, that I shall sample today. I hope they are not all talk and no substance because that will get them nowhere in this business.
ahmad khan Nov 13, 2015 06:21pm
so its Talha Khan and Marium Ali Bukhari who commented on the facebook Pages. Could you have perhaps used a better way to disguise the names
Mak Nov 14, 2015 12:06pm
Seriously!!!! I cant understand who exactly are they showing this kind of attitude. All of the world is embracing the idea of "Customer First" services and they are just utterly arrogant. Well they can keep their sandwiches to themselves :/