Service of Marketers Ruling the Roost: When Hip Overrides Clarity

September 9th, 2019

Categories: Marketing, Restaurant, Technology


When service or communications are poor, customers must wonder whether an operation is being run for them, the owners or the staff.

It may be none of the above.

Frequently the marketers run the show. Many are enamored of technology, to heck with whether or not the hip, new effect does the trick. It’s more important to appear to be cutting edge. Take revolving digital screens that move so quickly that customers can’t read and/or absorb the information fast enough. This isn’t a good choice for a fast food restaurant–or for anything else if the fast-moving screen features more than a few words with an image.

Hot & Spicy McChicken Photo:

Britton O’Daly wrote “Wait, Where Did That Burger Go? Diners Struggle With Fast-Moving Digital Menus,” in The Wall Street Journal. In one example a customer was frustrated because he didn’t catch the name of a new chicken dish at McDonald’s so instead of waiting for the screen to return–he feared holding up the line–he ordered a burger. I wonder why he felt he couldn’t ask for “one of those new chicken dishes?”

That customer may have been intimidated by marketers who are also in love with the cutesy names they give their products. To be considered “in,” there’s pressure to use them. I break out in a rash when forced to order coffee at Starbucks [I admit you rarely see me in there]. If I want a small coffee with skim that is how I will order it. You can keep your Grande, Venti and Trenta. Phooey.


Back to the original subject. O’Daly wrote: “Digital billboards are now everywhere, and companies love them. The only problem: people have a hard time reading them.”

This harkens back to an amazing looking logo in an unreadable font that also irks me. What’s the point?

Why is the public intimidated into ordering food or drink using the names a company gives it? Why does management put aside common sense and allow marketers to incorporate the latest widget or gadget to communicate with the public even if the vehicle doesn’t do the job? And why does a marketing department, or its advisors, lead its clients down so many primrose paths?


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4 Responses to “Service of Marketers Ruling the Roost: When Hip Overrides Clarity”

  1. Martha Takayama Said:

    Direct simple offerings, clearly written in large stationary letters would seem the easiest to navigate. Digital imagery also that moves at the customers demand certainly would be efficient.

    Menus that fly by digitally overloaded with kitchy cute language or excessive details are frustrating and irritating. They also discourage ordering. Signing with your finger for tips while being observed by the whole world including the server are unsanitary and gauche procedures!

    “Less is more” is a rule that applies in so many situations încluding all these fast food operations.
    I never go into Starbucks and will do so only if there is no other alternative to fainting from thirst.
    The all pervasive pretension of the ridiculous mannerisms, absurdly phony lingo and annoying service or lack there of have rendered me allergic to it. I also never will get over the awkwardness of having to very discreetly explain that the blue color on a lemon square I was going to share with a friend in a Starbucks located on Boston’s toniest retail street really did require a swift apoplogy and refund.

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    Lucrezia wrote on Facebook: What’s wrong should an establishment take time and trouble to give a dish a House name? It suggests creativity rather than intimidation! Specific areas have been doing variations of this for years. For example, New York’s “milk shake” becomes a “cabinet” in Rhode Island. Identical drink, and every bit as good in reputable eateries!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In Boston a milk shake was a frappe when I lived there, but I’m not referring to regional names. I spell it out in the post but I refer, for example, to sizes of drinks at Starbucks and the dirty looks a barista gives a customer who asks for a small coffee with skim instead of a grande [adding insult when the customer must add the milk him/herself]. Other chains give their products names that customers also feel compelled to use.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m laughing at your description of the moldy lemon square! I dislike having to open the top of my coffee cup at Starbucks to add milk. For the price of a cup of coffee at that place the barista should do this for me–another example of “let the customer do your work for you” that the public accepts without a blink.

    So often the simplest is the most efficient and best way to communicate for all involved. KISS [keep it simple stupid] is clearly no longer in fashion.

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