“Why is there an inflatable doll in the office?” Our #LunchDecoy adventure.


Working in social media, you end up getting approached getting some really unusual opportunities. A while back, I got tapped to do an “Instagram promotion” with Applebee’s and didn’t get much info aside from that. I went to pick up the last of Nightwolf’s birthday gifts that had arrived at my apartment’s mail room and there was a large mystery package there.

Upon opening it, I realized it was full of…something I was not expecting, at all. And then I laughed hysterically.

It was several inflatable people.

The letter included in the package read:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to free these Lunch Decoys from their boxes. You, your co-worked, and your friends no longer need to eat lunch at your desk just to impress your bosses. You’ve heard the ol’ saying: “Don’t blow off lunch, just blow it up.”

You were chosen because of your awesomeness. We know that we can count on you to help “take back lunch.”We assume you’ll take pictures and report back on your progress.

While the letter goes on to explain more in-depth, essentially the premise was this:

  • Applebee’s sent these inflatable decoys out to active social media users.
  • Said users were to blow up the decoys and show them around their workplaces.
  • Use the hashtag #LunchDecoy and tag the @LunchDecoy Twitter account.
  • As a thank you for their efforts, the social media users were given Applebee’s gift cards to share with their cohorts.
  • We needed to prove that with #LunchDecoys, we would be free to eat lunch away from our desks!

Well, friends, I like having fun. So I JUMPED on it. They sent me several, with a mixed variety of physical attributes (gender, skin color, hair color, eye color, and clothing). I sent one with Nightwolf to his agency (he also works in advertising, for a different agency) and then brought some of the others to our office. And let me tell you, it’s been a BLAST.

I should also point out that when you work in an advertising agency, blow-up “decoys” are hardly the weirdest thing you see or hear about. I sent out an office-wide email explaining the situation, and someone still asked, “Why is there an inflatable doll in the office?” And the funny part was, they weren’t shocked, they were just sincerely curious.

Nightwolf felt that his #LunchDecoy was nervous on the first day, so held hands with him to make him feel better. His boss then proceeded to have a 20-minute long conversation with Nightwolf’s #LunchDecoy.

Nightwolf #LunchDecoy

I don’t even have a witty caption to add to this.

My co-worker Ashley tried her hand at #LunchDecoy and had a lot of fun blowing off steam finding unique ways that a #LunchDecoy would be useful.

#LunchDecoy Ashley

Ashley’s Instagram caption: Do you think she’ll pass as my #LunchDecoy at #AdFarm?”

#LunchDecoy Ashley2

Ashley’s Instagram caption: “Hey, #LunchDecoy get back in your office!”

Apparently her #LunchDecoy had a mind of its own, though, and tried to run off in the middle of work.

#LunchDecoy Ashley3

“#LunchDecoy get back in my office. I know the view outside our window at #AdFarm is great, but you need to get back to work!”

This #LunchDecoy also has a flare for the dramatic. She enjoys scaring people as they walk by.

#LunchDecoy being a creeper

Creepy, right?

A creative directors here at my agency even made a video of his #LunchDecoy. (It now lives in his office wearing his agency-branded hard hat from a recent tour of our new building, which is under construction.) I had my own run-in with this particular #LunchDecoy.

Shaun #LunchDecoy

“Are you feeling okay today? You seem a little…shorter…and more quiet…than usual…”

My co-worker James, who works remotely from his home in Virginia, was sad to miss out on the #LunchDecoy fun so he sent me a picture of his own #LunchDecoy alternative.

#LunchDecoy wannabe

Not quite, James. Not quite.

(Something fishy is going on there if you work from home and are desperate enough to need a lunch decoy…)

Because we work in downtown Kansas City and the nearest Applebee’s is just a bit too far for a lunch break, we divvied up the gift cards among the contributors. My portion and Nightwolf’s went toward his birthday supper. It was perfect. I had ribs. He had a steak. We shared a giant mango-strawberry margarita. Our waiter yelled for the entire restaurant to pay attention to us and applaud Nightwolf on successfully reaching his 27th year. It was horribly embarrassing for him and incredibly fun for me. (For the record, if the powers-that-be at Applebee’s ever happen to see this, your restaurant on Barry Road in Kansas City, MO is stellar. The staff is awesome, the food there has always been good. This was not my first trip there, and I’ve always been happy!)

I would have Instagrams of our food and drinks…but we ate them too fast. I was hangry and it smelled too good to wait. Sorry I’m not sorry.

So, how did the #LunchDecoy “mission” go?

Really well. It was fun. My colleagues and friends have enjoyed “playing along” with it. And now we have a bunch of new fun #LunchDecoy friends to use around the office…for work, for pranks, for scaring people, and for leaving to grab lunch! And honestly, ad agencies are so fast-paced and a lot of people would never stop to notice that the “person” sitting at a computer is actually a blow-up decoy doll. (I mean, that’s not a slam against ad folks. We’re just busy! So maybe these #LunchDecoy things will catch on among my ad peers?)

Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this, Applebee’s! It’s been great, and Nightwolf, myself, and our colleagues appreciate the gift cards!

Mission accomplished.

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