Enough already! Can we put a moratorium on insipid phrases about “value meals?”

January 29, 2010

“Super Size this you clown!”

According to Wikipedia, “the ‘Happy Meal’ was the brainchild of St. Louis, Missouri advertising manager Dick Brams, who in 1977 contracted both Kansas City-based advertising firm Bernstein-Rein and Stolz Advertising Company of St. Louis to develop a children’s meal that would promote McDonald’s as a restaurant for families.”

The scheme was brilliant, if obvious: for a discounted price, combine sandwiches with side dishes and throw in a drink. Adding a toy (a la Cracker Jack) made it killer. The McDonald’s Happy Meal was born. If fast food wasn’t already addictive to children, Happy Meals sealed the deal. Not since “Drive Thru” had quick serve restaurants (QSRs) something so proprietary.

Other QSRs followed suit and now every one of them has myriad meal ensembles with copyrighted names: The BK Value Menu… Wendy’s Classic Combos… Yes, there are now “Value Meals” and “Combo Deals” and “Super Value Combo Deals!” Some are “Fresh To-Go” or “Go Active!” Or even “Fresh Fit for Kids.” Taco Bell offers a “Why Pay More Value Menu.” as well as “Diet Drive-Thru.” And on and on and on…

Enough already! I’m sick of marketers coining insipid phrases to sum up food pairings. Aren’t you? Cute, copyrighted clichés have run their course. They are noise pollution. Cultural debris. And ever so annoying.

I know they perform a function. I get it. But I also find such monikers cloying and crass. Not to sound elitist but doesn’t a Super-Size © Extra-Value Meal© make you think of ghettos and trailer parks?

Another aspect that bugs the crap out of me is when these names are used incorrectly as language, especially in ad copy. For example: using “super size” as a verb. Or when the TV announcer uses “Fresh-Fit-For-Kids-Value-Meal” as a compound noun. Drives me crazy! People aren’t supposed to talk like that.

I also find it degrading that advertisers assume people need or want catchy names to describe their lunch. Like we can’t order a meal without helper words. I understand why it might be helpful to list complicated, strange dishes by number in a Chinese restaurant. But a burger and fries? Come on…

And don’t get me started on the pointless “money saving” popcorn and coke combinations they peddle at the movies. I do not need or want the extra gigantic soda, even if it is only fifty cents more.

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7 Responses to “Enough already! Can we put a moratorium on insipid phrases about “value meals?””

  1. lesa said

    Ah yes, and the insipid sister…Super Size Me.

  2. Chad said

    I propose a cute name for this post.

    Steffan’s Super-Salty®

    I thought I was the only one!

  3. acridthots said

    Why go furious about a lil bit of liberty taken while naming a meal? and I always thot a bit of relaxing on grammar can go into ads.. these compound words and etc etc. If such is the case all adwords may look insipid at a point.. the whole game thrives on asymmetry..

  4. http://www.fastfoodmarketing.net Well, I’d say that a company selling a product has the right to call it what they want. Fast food marketing and QSR advertising is designed to sell food…

  5. bdridgway said

    THAT is a great point!

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