I've Got the Over-Wrought Advertising Blues

I've Got the Over-Wrought Advertising Blues

Dunkin' Donuts created an ad campaign a few years ago with the catchphrase, "America Runs on Dunkin'". It works, doesn't it? It's short, sweet and gets the point across. I, however, disagree with it. America really runs on advertising. Over the past few years, I have taken note of how retailers and restaurants have to make everything sound fancier and better than what it is. Frankly, it annoys me. I understand the point of marketing and advertising professionals-they are there to entice customers to buy products and make money for the company. The problem I have is that they are REALLY stretching things.

Let's take a look at Dunkin' Donuts. I pulled up to the drive through a while back to grab a cup of coffee. I hadn't been to the Dunkin' drive through in a long time. I scanned the menu for the price of a small coffee. I wanted to make sure I had enough cash on me because I didn't want to use my debit card for such a small amount. I looked at the menu in confusion. One side had the heading "Gets You Running", while the other side was titled "Keeps You Running". So where was the coffee listed? I couldn't find it in the mess of complex breakfast burritos and whipped mocha lattes. I felt like Andy Rooney as I grimaced in frustration. Why can't one side say "Coffee" and the other side say "Food"? Too boring I guess.

Many other restaurant chains are guilty of using over the top advertising and customer service gimmicks. One time when I approached the counter at Potbelly, the cashier blurted out "What's for lunch today?" Huh? Why couldn't she just say, "What will you have"? Obviously Potbelly was trying to implement some cutesy ordering process. I never heard anyone say that again after that. What about Moe's burritos? They scream "WELCOME TO MOE'S" at every person who walks in. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Moe's is not a burrito place; it's a southwest grill. The list goes on. At Noodles and Company the other day, I noticed that the back of my waiter's shirt read "Tour Guide". Don't call them servers!

The most ridiculous case of fancifying I have encountered comes from Aveda. Hey, do you like my new word, fancifying? Maybe I can sell it to an ad agency. Anyway, I really love Aveda hair products. A few years ago I thought I might want to work part time at an Aveda store. I perused their web site for job openings. I was looking for the words part time sales person, specifically. After mining the website for some time (Ok Aveda, I get that you are eco-conscious. Now where are your jobs listed?) I found the employment page. All I could find were jobs at their "Experience Centers". What? Is that a museum?  A hair product museum? They were looking for "Advisors". That sounds like a serious role, like someone who helps you pick out college classes. Was I qualified for that? Was I qualified to help people choose very important, expensive hair care products from a hair care museum? I wasn't quite sure.

In the end, though I may find various slogans and campaigns severely grating, I still eat at Noodles and Company and I still buy Aveda shampoo. The question I have is this: Do all of these advertising niceties make people buy more? Less?  Is it just a bunch of hot air? Do ad campaigns truly influence what you buy and eat?



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