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Make It Fast…and Sexy

March 24, 2010

Fast Food Slogans

Whose advertising campaigns are more fascinating than the fast food industry’s (or any food industry?)? A quick glance at this slogan database and you’re probably imagining a sultry chorus singing in the background while the camera zooms slowly in upon the image of cardiac-arrestingly inducing deliciousness.

But I’m more interested in the wording of the slogan.

Take Subway’s: Subway. Eat fresh.

Terse, but clever—it says a lot in only three words. “Subway” tells you the name of the business; “Eat,” the kind of business; and “fresh,” the quality of the eats.

“Eat fresh” also implies that the eats are healthier than other fast-food chains, while “Subway” connotes—sandwiches.

The slogan has a nice, pounding meter to it, too—especially the way they say it in the advertisements. “Subway” is generally pronounced with the stress on the first syllable—subway—but the announcer(s)/chorus breaks the word up to stress each syllable—sub…way. They stress “Eat fresh” similarly—eat…fresh—so the slogan is a series of four little verbal jabs.

But while Subway maintains a fresh and clean image, other fast-food chains are more lurid. Hotdoggists WindMill boast that their wieners are “Bigger! Better!”; Jack-in-the-Box doesn’t “Make It Until you Order It”; Kentucky-Fried Chicken‘s wings, thighs, and breasts are, of course, “Finger-Lickin’ Good!”

Of these three, Kentucky-Fried is easily the market leader (with a paltry $520 million) and its entendre the most blatant (though WindMill comes close). Quiznos‘ tender “Mmm…Toasty,” A&W‘s patriotic “All-American Food,” and Hardee‘s nuturing “Come on Home” can’t even compete. The virtuous advertisers are all second-rate—and don’t think quality of food is the key ingredient; who wouldn’t rather eat at any of these three than KFC (then again, the last time I was at KFC, I ordered the gizzards; they took a half hour to prepare and were f@#!ing awful).

With nearly 6,000 locations and $2 billion in annual revenue, Taco Bell would seem to be somewhat of an anomaly—especially given their slogan “Make a Run for the Border,” which may as well be “High-tail It to the Toilet” (and if that’s not enough, the use of “run” in the slogan drives it home). However I figure TB’s the outlier because it’s also the fast-food joint everyone goes to when it’s 4 AM and you’re staggering between the hunger stages of “I’ll eat the corn from a longhorn’s ***” and “But only if it’s covered in cheese and some indistinct form of grease.”

Still, none of these chains ranks with the burger joints, whose slogans, while nevertheless very suggestive, aren’t quite as vulgar:

Burger King: “Have It Your Way”; “Your Way, Right Away”; “You’re the Boss”; “The Fire’s Ready”; “Best Food for Fast Times”; “Home of the Whopper.”

Wendy’s: “It’s Better Here”; “Do What Tastes Right”; “Where’s the Beef?”

For the record, both BK and Wendy’s bring in about $2.5 billion annually.

But the clear leader is McDonald’s, whose revenue is a staggering $22+ billion—and here’s where it gets interesting, because Mickey D’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” “What You Want Is What You Get,” “Nothing Can Do It Like McDonald’s,” “We Love to See You Smile,” etc. aren’t overtly obscene but aren’t the tamest creatures either. Mac’s also seems to have the largest number of slogans, so it may just be the sheer quantity.

Granted, Whitecastle‘s “What You Crave,” is a bit ambiguous, but then again, they used Toby Radloff as a spokesperson, so I’m not sure what to say.

But I’m curious as to why the burger joints’ entendres (including Jack-in-the-Box) connote prostitution. The connotation can’t be too obvious, as you’ll recall given the uproar over Paris Hilton’s Burger King ad, but so long as it’s merely suggestive, the case would seem that your arches are golden. I won’t go into revenues here, but I’ve researched it, and trust me: Burger Joints Tower over the other fast foods, so the heaviest competition is amongst themselves, if the heaviest competition is amongst themselves, you can expect them to have the best advertisers; if they hire the best advertisers, you can expect their advertisements to appeal to the most people, if they appeal to the most people, then you can conclude that most people equate food with prostitution.


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