Chipotle’s NPR Sponsorship is more effective than most food photography.

I listen to NPR.

As anyone else who listens can tell you, those sponsorship messages are pretty bland. “…and brought to you by Blankenblank Vague Services, a bringer of good to the common good for over ninety decades…” is how they all sound as you tool along in your automobile.

I heard one from Chipotle this morning.

All day I’ve tried to Google it so I can talk about it here, and can’t find it. I’ll just have to take a stab at it. When I hear it again I’ll update this post.

It was something like this (very approximately): “…and by Chipotle, who believes in sustainable food prepared by traditional methods, such as the hormone-free beef we marinade in a traditional adobo sauce and simmer until medium rare.” It will be interesting when I go back to the radio and catch it again to find out how far off I am.

But this is my point: as I describe in my book, in “Chapter 15, The Elements of Writing About Eating,” to avoid boring cliché phrases and adjectives that the listener absolutely knows are mere opinion and not to be trusted, describe your process.

Describe how you make the food, in the most basic terms.

It forces the listener/reader/viewer to create the image in their mind.

And guess what: now your food is in their head.

Right where you want it.

(Well, a little bit north of where you literally want it, if you’ve successfully placed it in your customer’s imagination but it hasn’t quite yet been purchased and placed in the mouth.)

And I will tell you, even though it was my morning commute and I wasn’t hungry and I certainly wasn’t thinking about lunch or burritos, the radio voice forcing me to imagine a really good piece of meat marinating in adobo sauce and then cooking until it was medium rare was vivid. Radio is the most intimate medium anyway, one voice and two ears with nothing but ideas passing between them. But this description was so much more effective than telling me it was succulent, or tender, or cooked to perfection. It was also more effective than telling me where it was from, or showing me a video of people enjoying it. It was even more effective than this photo, which I glance at, get the general idea of, and (if I’m not starving or forced to study it) immediately forget:

A perfectly fine Chipotle burrito.

Nope. That photo is fine, but forgettable.

But I’m still thinking about the marinating, simmering beef in my brain they mentioned on NPR this morning. Chipotle stuck it there. I can’t get it back out.

End of copywriting lesson.

I’ll let you know how wrong I was about what it actually said.