Love me, feed me, don't leave me!

Are you in the market for a new food delivery app?  Do you also want to clip coupons, watch cartoons, check Instagram, and play augmented reality games, all from the same app?

Now, do you want all of that to be Garfield themed?

God I would hope not.  But we got it anyways.

[An important aside- this is the point where I have to decide whether this blog will free of profanity for the sake of professionalism, or I will use as much swearing as I do in real life for the sake of genuinely conveying my opinions.]

Get ready, y’all.  Because everything about this is completely batshit.

GarfieldEats is a “Quick Mobile Restaurant” that, as I assume you have pieced together by now, focusses on food delivery with a Garfield flair.  One would think that the flagship item on their menu would be lasagna, the Garf’s trademark favorite food, but instead their marketing really hypes up their Garfield-shaped pizza, which according to customer photos on Twitter actually does come out looking vaguely Garfield-shaped, and not just a weird, misshapen blob.  Of course, they do also serve lasagna, as well as smoothies and some abomination called a Garficcino (it’s fine though, they have pumpkin spice). The pizzas and lasagna can also be upgraded to a combo that comes with fries and… orange juice. Ya know, the perfect pairing for Italian food. Their menu also states that their food contains no preservatives, no GMOs, no fertilizers, and no artificial colors (all things that I’m sure the health-conscious Garfield is concerned about), as well as listing “100% natural” and “natural dough” as if the two are mutually exclusive.  Their Dubai location opened about a year ago, and went seemingly unnoticed by the West until they began advertising for the new Toronto location, which opened June 5th. Most people’s reaction, consumers and media outlets alike, seem to be excited, yet bewildered by the sheer concept, and reviews of the food itself are pretty middle of the road. Oh, and in the week and a half that I took to research and write this, apparently My Brother, My Brother and Me did a Munch Squad segment on it. Hopefully I didn’t steal any of those good, good McElroy jokes.

So the menu itself is a bit goofy, but nothing super out-there and seems to be doing its best to adhere to its theme, what’s so crazy about that? To really understand the GarfieldEats experience, you have to look past the food and look at the heart of the operation: the app (or, in my case, the website, as there is no way in hell that I’m installing this thing on my phone).

First things first, yes, their website, promotional materials and Twitter feed are all written in broken English.  But let’s face it, English is a garbage language as it is and making fun of a Dubai-based company for not understanding all the intricacies of our grammar is reaching for low hanging fruit, especially when there is so much else going on here.  

When you first load up the site, you are greeted by the familiar feline and the restaurant’s slogan, “Love me, feed me, don’t leave me!” Now, I consider myself a fairly lonely, desperate person, but I would never in my wildest dreams make my business’ slogan something this needy (although I may have to change my Tinder bio…).  As you scroll down, a video starring Garfield creator Jim Davis himself explains to you that Garfield does, in fact, eat. The site also goes into great detail about the many different functions the app has; once you’ve ordered your food, you can buy episodes of the 1980’s “Garfield and Friends” cartoon, play an augmented reality game, clip coupons (sorry, Goupons) that are presumably earned by making certain purchases, buy various pieces of Garfield merch, help track fitness goals, and share photos with your friends (assuming that they also use the app, but hey, why wouldn’t they?).

This is a lot of things for one app to do.  It could have all been so simple, I give Garfield my money, he makes me a pizza, and then he drives it to my house.  Who decided the app needed all these extra bells and whistles?

Not pictured: the company name, or any information on how to get their product

That would be Nathen Mazri, the co-founder (the other co-founder, Pascal Haider, is much less vocal about his involvement in this project) and CEO (Chief… Entergage Officer).  He claims to have spent years studying the rapidly developing app industry (which, in his words, amounts to reading “How to Build a Billion Dollar App” by George Berkowsi), and has found that the key to a successful app is through entergaging.

Enter-gaging.  That’s entertaining and engaging, folks. Mazri is the Shakespeare of the modern era, in that he’s just making up whatever words he wants.

Essentially, the concept of entergagement is that the more time customers spend on your app, the more successful it will be.  He cites Uber, Deliveroo, and Zomato as examples of this principle being put to the test, although I don’t know off the top of my head how many people sit and stare at the Uber app while sitting in the back seat of their ride.  Kudos to him for trying to adapt to the times, I guess.

The website also wants you to know that GarfieldEats cares about sustainability, and, given Dubai’s relationship with waste, this seems like a valiant effort on their part.  Unfortunately, this sentiment manifests itself in the form of things like suggesting that the box that the lasagna comes in can be upcycled into a tissue box… for all the loose, otherwise boxless tissues you have lying around.  They also claim to have corporate responsibility programs in place to address (what they call) the four basic human needs: food, health, shelter and love. Nice try, but I don’t need a corporate responsibility program to tell me that Garfield loves me.

While most of the app’s features seem fairly straightforward, I would like to focus on a few specific ones.  First off, the only evidence I’ve seen of the fitness goal tracker is a single screenshot, and its existence continues to vex me to this day. In a similar vein, the Instagram-esque image sharing service is also severely downplayed in their promotional material, and is presumably being used by no one.  But the feature that baffles me the most? The AR game. The game itself is essentially Fruit Ninja, except Garfield is there. The AR aspect really has nothing to do with the gameplay, and only serves to provide a background for Garfield as he throws food in the air. But, there’s also a fun little minigame where you can dress up the Garf with clothes that you can buy in microtransactions-


If it hadn’t been clear this whole time, the app is nothing but a lazy cash grab.  But how deep does it go? Is the concept of entergaging keeping users on the app for as long as possible part of a data-mining operation?  Did Nathen Mazri purposely shit out a half-assed app in an attempt to embezzle millions of dollars from Jim Davis’ media empire? Is the AR aspect of the game just an excuse to allow the app to access my camera? Is Garfield watching me sleep at night?

Is this app really as malicious as I’m claiming it is? Maybe not. But maybe this will be the tipping point where app developers realize that they think about what does or doesn’t add value to their app experience.  Or maybe the Garfageddon will soon spread across the whole world, who’s to say. Either way, just remember,

Love me, feed me, don’t leave me.

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