Sunday, September 8, 2019

The United States of Fast Food

Image credit: Thrillist
In America our relationship with fast-food is a funny thing. It carries so many negative connotations- unhealthy, unsustainable, low-status, the worst of corporate America. Everything that Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollen, Morgan Spurlock and others have very persuasively deconstructed about it. For all the profitability of the McDonald's brand, you can seemingly devalue a thing by adding 'Mc-' to the front- McMansion, McJob, McChurch, etc.

But for many of my generation, fast-food was our first paying job and where we learned to work. I remember at age 15 being taught to work the grill at a McDonald's in Bellingham, Washington, and marveling as my trainer explained that their hamburgers tasted the same wherever you went because their entire system of operation was designed to achieve that consistency. I came to discretely harbor immense pride at being an employee of the most unstoppable restaurant brand in the world and looked down at my friends who'd settled to work at inferior chains, jobs that had the same stigma without any of the (admittedly, perhaps, imaginary) status.

For all the unfavorable associations with fast-food, it is part of the fabric of our culture, because it is everywhere we go. On a remote state highway or in a bleak airport terminal with few appealing options for sustenance, it might be the one thing you feel like you can trust. And in this excellent read by Adam Chandler, his fascinating personal and historical journey showed me how fast-food, for all its faults and flaws, serves as kind of a connective tissue, facilitating shared experience in this country in a way I'd never fully appreciated. And in this day and age where we live in either a red state or a blue state and there is no shortage of issues to fracture us- whether it is politics, religion, education, health care, parenting, or the economy- it's worth noting when anything has the power to connect people in ways that transcend social, racial, economic, political, geographic and even generational lines.  Even if it's a way we might be reluctant as a fast-food nation to admit.

Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heard of America's Fast-Food Kingdom
By Adam Chandler
288 pp. Flatiron Books. $27.99.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thoughts on "This Is Marketing" by Seth Godin

Image result for this is marketing

If you work in or anywhere near marketing I'm sure you've heard of Seth Godin, if you haven't already read his work.  I have several of his books on my shelf right now and started with more but they often disappear because I am so eager to get other people to read them.  Seth's latest book, This is Marketing, is such a unique discussion of the topic, so very readable and engaging like all of Seth's work, that rather than interpret it for you or try and fail do it any justice, I just want to share a few of the many quotes I wrote down while reading.

"Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us."

"If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you've done something worthwhile."

"'Roll Tide!' is a promise about dominance." 

  • (As a higher education marketer working on brand strategy, and someone who grew up in a Big Ten college town, I am fascinated with the ways large public universities use sports to build affinity with populations far beyond their customer base.)

"Your promise is directly connected to the change you seek to make, and it's addressed to the people you seek to change."

"'Brand' is a shorthand for the customers expectations.  What promise do they think you're making?  What do they expect when they buy from you or meet with you or hire you?"

"If you want to build a marketing asset, you need to invest in connection and other non-transferrable properties.  If people care, you've got a brand."

"Without a brand, a logo is meaningless."

  • Amen
"The market has been trained to associate frequency with trust.  If you quit right in the middle of building that frequency, it's no wonder that you never got a chance to earn that trust?"

On attention and permission:

"Facebook and other social platforms seem like a shortcut, because they make it apparently easy to reach new people.  But the tradeoff is that you're a sharecropper.  It's not your land.  You don't have permission to contact people, they do.  You don't own an asset, they do."

"Connected tribes are more powerful than disconnected ones." 

Find it here on Amazon

King of the substitute brands

I've re-published this story on Medium and will be moving all my posts over there soon.  Thanks for visiting!