Monday, June 11, 2007

marketing through mad-libs

Our new place is at an odd edge of the Fan. The area mostly gentrified years ago, but walk over a block and you're on the ever-funky blocks on Broad. That said, we have some decent restaurants nearby, as well as one of the best diners in Richmond. Unfortunately, they had just closed when Banana and I went to get our post-painting lunch. Arby's, however, was open.

I'm not a big fan of any of the big fast food chains... but the Beef and Cheddar sandwich I had brought me back to life. Banana wasn't thrilled with her chicken, but the fries and Tropicana juice were favorites.

As unhealthy a lunch as this was, I wasn't prepared for how unhealthy the "prize" would be. A Mad-Libs book is what it was, and at first glance, it seemed far better than the movie-branded toys that come with most kids' meals.

Until we did our first "story."

It was a neat little fitness story about a figure-skating girl who wins the gold medal and jumps in her coach's arms. Hello, Bela Karolyi. Anyway, the story ended with the sentence "Plus, she's looking forward to ___verb ending in "ing"___ tonight at Arby's!"

For fuck's sake, how's that for trying to create subtle brand identification? It's not enough that parents end up taking their kids to these "restaurants," is it. No. We have to create life-long consumers. I've given up thinking that I'm being too cynical in seeing these efforts for what they are; I've been in the business too long. No, these companies want to create fat children addicted to food high in fat, sweeteners, and salt, and addicted to their brands.

And it's not new. Remember candy cigarettes?