The Hess Report

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'll Have The "Love-You-Long-Time" Style Wings, Please 

Marketers, take note: I hate you.*

* Excepted is Eric Eisenstein, rational marketing professor extraordinaire, who, you know, thinks about stuff.

Much like Homer Simpson punched the Ad exec who created the radio ads with the annoying people arguing in Mr. Plow, I would similarly assault the marketing wizards who are advancing a certain trend in product nomenclature. An example is in order:

Me: Hmmmm, I've heard that this here ice cream place, Cold Stone Creamery, is pretty good. Everyone looks so happy eating their gourmet ice cream!

CSC Clerk: Can I help you sir?

Me: Yes, I'd like vanilla cake ice cream with chocolate chunks.

CSC Clerk: What size?

Me: Small... er... wait a minute... your menu... what the hell?

CSC Clerk: We have "Like It", "Love It" and "Gotta Have It" sizes.

Me: I'm not ordering that way. It's embarrassing.

CSC Clerk: Well, that's what the menu says.

Me: Grrrr. I think I'll have "Stuff It Up Your Marketer's Hind End."

CSC Clerk: ??? Dude, I just work here.

Me: Exit, stage left, fuming.

CSC Clerk: What a tight-ass.

So that's it. Marketers: giving your stuff such stooopid names that it embarrasses your customers to say them is a bad idea. Moe's Southwest Grill is another culprit. Good food, but to get a burrito, you have to order the "Joey Bag 'o Donuts" or the "Homewrecker." That's just freaking embarrassing. I want a burrito, man, not clever banter.

Look, I understand what you're trying to do. You're trying to increase brand differentiation and provide a more unique, all-encompassing experience. Also, by getting people to agree to use your terminology, you're extracting a bit of "help" from them, having them make a concession to your system, which subconsciously (you hope) increases their loyalty. (Campaigning and psychology aside: Want someone to help you with something big? Build up to it by asking for a number of little things. When you ask for the big thing, the small amounts of help they've given you in the past will have them psychologically invested in your success, and they'll be more likely to help with the big thing.)

But what you forgot is that most people don't go around looking for excuses to interact at a familiar level with complete strangers. We prefer to be familiar with our friends, but to have polite but semi-formal interaction with strangers. That's right. I'd be happier getting your ice cream from a robot than engaging in the forced familiarity of your silly nicknames.

When Joe at Joe Zeppi's up the street sells us ice cream, I wouldn't mind him being a bit familiar. But that familiarity is based on repeat business, and the fact that he owns the place and is local. It's not been forced on us by his corporate overlords, and their slimy toad-lickers in marketing.

So, marketing geniuses, ditch the names and the fake familiarity. If something's going to have a nickname, it's because I or someone I know gave it that nickname. You're like some guy who goes to college and tells everyone that his nickname is "Razor", just to seem cool. He didn't earn the name. No one saw how his pool game was razor-sharp and said: "Bill, I'm calling you Razor from now on, man". He just decided to call himself "Razor". What a tool, you think? Exactly. Just like you.

I want my ice cream small, my wings just plain hot, and a chicken burrito with salsa and sour cream, and I don't want to have to feel like a complete fool when I order it.

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