Got Out My Camera, part 1: the “Big, Chatty, Graphic Words” trend.

Thought I’d dip into my collection of photos from those moments when I’m eating like a normal person—a civilian, if you will—and suddenly I’m embarrassing my family or co-diners by taking photos of something in the restaurant.

Now is the time.

And it was all spurred on by this:

Qdoba chats up the bag.

I am going to speak for America: Qdoba, the time is passed. There was a time when I was as charmed as anyone by big, chatty, graphic type on point of purchase materials, wall decor and packaging—and again, I’m speaking as a civilian AND a marketing guy (in other words, I enjoyed the work both as a normal person and a person who was jealous and would like to do that kind of work). But now it’s common. And so your big, chatty, graphic remarks must be way, way, way more interesting than this bag.

I feel the masters of graphic-chatty were Burger King about ten or so years ago.

But it’s a thing now. EVERYBODY DOES BIG, CHATTY, GRAPHIC WORDS. And at this point, unless the words are really good, really smart and diverting and ownable, I don’t think it’s doing you any favors. Hear me, restaurant marketers of the world. Your big, chatty, graphic words must be better than they are.

What is this, Mooyah?

I took a photo of my burger and my son posed behind it, and behind him were these words. I wish the words were more interesting.
I took a photo of my burger (not seen in this cropping) and my son posed behind it, and behind him were these words. I wish the words were more interesting.

These words are dull! Your restaurant is fun. But your big, chatty, graphic words are dull.

Now, Chipotle was one of the first after Burger King to start working through a quirky, personalized brand in-store. Here are some examples of in-store chatty-graphic stuff that remains personable and ownable and somewhat interesting.

Chipotle napkin speaks.
The Chipotle napkin speaks—and it speaks somewhat on strategy. Nice job, napkin. (Hey, cups: check out what napkin did.)

Chipotle Cup Speaks 1Chipotle cup speaks, 2.

So that was great, back in the day. And even now—the napkin is even part of their saving-the-world-for-the-right-reasons strategy (that’s what’s so powerful about all that old BK stuff: it’s on strategy, AND it’s fun). But now look at all these. It’s become a thing. A go-to thing. Everybody has to have big, chatty, graphic remarks that LOOK like they have a big personality—but so few deliver any personality.

The KFC wall art speaks.
The KFC wall art speaks.
The Smashburger fry liner speaks.
The Smashburger fry liner speaks.
The Huddle House circular booth speaks.
The Huddle House circular booth speaks.
The Steak ’n Shake bulkhead speaks.
The Steak ’n Shake bulkhead speaks.
The Bagger Dave’s menu speaks.
The Bagger Dave’s menu speaks.
A Fazoli’s catering box speaks.
A Fazoli’s catering box speaks.

I include some of these examples with reservation; they’re brands I’ve worked on, or talked to, or would like to work on more. So I’m not being INCREDIBLY critical. I’m just saying, if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, then maybe it’s time to think of something new to do.

I have a lot more photos, including examples of things I think are good. I’ll post more of them this week.