Archive for the ‘restaurants’ category

Latest Subway Ad a Real Turkey

January 21st, 2013

The only thing worse than not being clever is thinking you’re clever when you’re not.  Exhibit A:  this latest TV commercial for Subway, one of the least clever advertisers on the planet.

Do Subway’s executives, or their ad agency, actually think the phrase “Turkeytopia” is clever?  Worse yet, do they think their audience thinks it’s clever?

If we’re to believe this ad, Ndamukong Suh, one of the celebrity athletes featured in this spot, finds the phrase absolutely hysterical.  Then again, he thinks it’s fine to stomp on an and maim opposing players on the football field, so his judgment is suspect to say the least.

Speaking of questionable judgment, who thought it was a good idea to feature Suh–the NFL’s dirtiest player with numerous off-the-field mishaps as well –in this commercial?  Generally speaking, the rule of many hapless advertisers seems to be, “If you don’t have a creative idea, use a celebrity.”  As it is wont to do, Subway was so lacking in creativity that it decided to use three celebrities in this spot.  Thus, not only is the commercial totally lacking in cleverness, it’s also unnecessarily expensive.

I’ve always liked Subway as a provider of reasonably healthy and tasty fast food, but I’ve never understood why they can’t get it together from an advertising standpoint.

And if Subway doesn’t like the opinions I’m expressing, they can Suh me.

McDonald’s French Fries Commercial Is a Keeper

November 29th, 2011

When I was first starting out in the wonderful world of marketing, McDonald’s was one of the most creative and effective advertisers in the world.  For years their ads simultaneously tantalized your taste buds and tugged at your heartstrings, and they played a huge role in clearly elevating the brand far above all fast food competitors.  Sadly, it’s been at least 10 or 15 years since McDonald’s so consistently worked its marketing magic.

Recently, however, I’ve been seeing some signs that the old magic might be returning.  Perhaps the most encouraging example is their current  french fries commercial. This warmly-shot spot is charming in its simplicity, and the surprise ending makes me smile no matter how many times I see it.

This could have featured a customer saying “I love McDonald’s fries” or an announcer citing statistics documenting how McDonald’s fries are preferred over the competition’s at a statistically significant level of confidence.  Obviously, however, such flat-footed approaches couldn’t come close to the impact of having three kids running and riding full-speed off a dock in pursuit of a McDonald’s  french fry on the end of a fishing hook.

To me, this spot both reminds me of how delicious McDonald’s fries are and makes me like McDonald’s just a little bit more.  It’s highly entertaining yet almost believable. In short, it’s the ultimate fish story.

Subway Takes the Low Road by Entertaining Rather Than Selling

November 28th, 2011

I’ve never been a fan of Subway’s advertising )such as their cloying and annoying “5 Dollar Footlong” campaign).   Their latest  TV campaign, however, is a particular puzzler.  A lot of my friends and readers who’ve seen this campaign have asked me why the ads feature adults talking like kids, and my honest answer is that I have no idea.

The device of giving children’s voices to adult actors is arguably entertaining the first few times you see it. but it does nothing to make the viewer want to hop in the car and drive to the nearest Subway.  The ad doesn’t feature fascinating footage of the sandwich, or describe its tantalizing taste in drool-inducing detail, or give you compelling facts about its nutritional advantages.  In short, it doesn’t sell; it simply entertains…sort of.

If Subway was trying to make the point that its sandwiches “bring out the kid in you” or “remind you of when you were a kid”, using kids’ voices would at least have some degree of underlying logic.  But that’s hardly the case here.

So what’s Subway thinking?  I don’t have a clue.  And neither, it appears, do they.

Jimmy John’s Ads: So Focused You’ll Freak

March 26th, 2011

The first time I ate at a  Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, I was disappointed.  For some reason–probably the sound of the  brand name–I had expected the sandwiches to be pretty tasty, but in fact I found them pretty nondescript.  But if you listen to their radio commercials, you’ll realize that Jimmy John’s is not about tasty sandwiches; they’re about fast sandwiches.

These commercials make no promises about how juicy, spicy, toasty or succulent their sandwiches are; they just promise you that they’ll be delivered to you in a hurry.  That’s something no other national sandwich chain has ever promised before.  And promising something your competitors don’t is a good idea–provided it’s something customers want.  And it doesn’t hurt to make that promise with a very good sense of humor.

Michael Treacy’s The Discipline of Market Leaders was one of the first books to make a compelling case for not trying to excel at everything, but to instead excel at one thing and be “good enough” in other important areas.  Jimmy John’s has clearly decided to excel at customer service (i.e., delivery time), and–almost as important–they’ve had the wisdom to have their marketing communications focus on that story.

That kind of marketing discipline is certainly refreshing.  In fact, it’s almost–sorry, I can’t help myself–freaky!

Olive Garden: When You’re Here, You’re Phony

May 11th, 2010

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve periodically considered doing a post about the Olive Garden‘s incredibly sappy  TV commercials.   I’ve always resisted, however, simply because they were such easy pickings.   But for some reason, the commercial I just saw pushed my resistance past the tipping point, and I decided I need to get this rant of my chest.

When you’re creating advertising, especially about something fun like eating out, it seems to me you owe it to your audience–and to your stockholders–to at least make an attempt to be clever.  After all, you’re asking people for 30 seconds of their precious time, and it’s only fair that you provide some entertainment value in return.  Unfortunately, the Olive Garden makes no such attempt.  All of their ads feature insufferably sunny Stepford wives, husbands and friends making and laughing at really lame jokes about how much they love this restaurant chain’s food.

Despite this, however, Olive Garden’s sales are growing, and it may well be that the advertising is actually working.  How can that possibly be?  The fact is that Olive Garden does a lot of things right.  Their ads–annoying as they are–have a very consistent look and feel that make it very clear which brand is being advertised.  The restaurant decor is always quite pleasant.  Some ads tell how their recipes are created in an Olive Garden Culinary Institute of Tuscany in a restored 11th century village; while this might be a marketing gimmick, I think it’s a pretty good one that, if anything, should get more emphasis in the company’s marketing.  And I have to admit that the ads make their food look pretty tasty.

So why am I ranting?  Because I believe their ads would be even more effective if they replaced the saccharine with some Italian spice.  Dump the lame jokes and the lamer laughs and add a dash or three of sophisticated humor.  The food and ambience will still be as appealing, but more viewers will pay attention if they know it will make them smile or laugh instead of frown or retch.

What’s more, it will reduce the risk that viewers will avoid the restaurant for fear that they’ll be seated near a table of dorky people with really bad senses of humor.