Bar Rescue: Power Plant meets Snow White

**First, this tweet from Jon Taffer in relation to the comment below from Rich Unger:

**And now the blogpost:

What does Snow White have to do with the renaming of a dive bar in Laguna Niguel, California?  As demonstrated by last night’s episode of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, more than you might think.

The dive bar in question – “the dive by the (highway) five”, as locals called it – was called Rocks.  Situated in a seedy industrial park, the filthy establishment attracted an unsavoury crowd and was bleeding money.  As part of a complete makeover, bar turnaround tough guy Jon Taffer renamed it Power Plant.  The new name took a key weakness – the bar’s unfortunate location – and turned it into a believable positioning as an industrial-themed venue.

A name change, in isolation, is not going to rescue a bar.  But a strategically-selected new name can set in motion a comprehensive brand experience that is aligned and reinforced at every customer touchpoint.

It’s a branding technique pioneered decades ago by Disney in its theme parks.  As discussed by Chip and Dan Heath in their bestselling book, Made to Stick, Disney calls its theme park employees “cast members.”  This is what’s referred to as a generative metaphor, meaning metaphors that generate “new perceptions, explanations and inventions.”  And:

“The metaphor of employees as cast members in a theatrical production is communicated consistently throughout the organization:

  • Cast members don’t interview for a job, they audition for a role.
  • When they are walking around the park, they are onstage.
  • People visiting Disney are guests, not customers.
  • Jobs are performances; uniforms are costumes.”


This generative metaphor is very effective at setting standards of behaviour among employees.  Rest assured, for example, that you’ll never see Snow White smoking a cigarette while on break – and in fact, that you won’t see her taking a break in the first place.

So if the bar’s metaphor is that of “power plant,” how did Jon and the bar’s staff make it generative?  In several ways:  Power Plant strongly suggested the establishment’s new positioning as a high-energy dance club, supported by a kickass sound system; industrial-themed décor was created, from the brightly burning torches at the bar’s front entrance to the sealed cement floor inside.

The bar’s new drink recipes, in terms of either their contents and/or their names, would be another obvious opportunity to extend the power plant metaphor (Bar Rescue culinary producer JoAnn Cianciulli says the drink recipes should be posted here soon, so we’ll see if Jon took this approach).

What other opportunities do you see for Power Plant to riff on the power plant metaphor?  Are there other décor opportunities, or certain things the staff could wear or do, for example?


My other Bar Rescue blogposts:

America Live is a name that sings

Should Weber’s name have been stripped?

Always being right is never as easy as it looks


Sneak peek at next week’s episode: Bikini Bust

Bikini Bust Sneak Peek
Get More: Bikini Bust Sneak Peek


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