Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lose some weight, ladies!

Who doesn't love a good cheeseburger now and then? Sure, all that meat and cheese can't be very good for you, but hey, it's not like we can't handle a few of them. Right?

This is part of Subway's by now rather lengthy campaign to embarrass fast food chains by saying that their products lead to things like "saddlebags" and "a paunch". But there's a difference between saying that eating high-calorie fast food will make you fat and enumerating exaggerated consequences of that potential weight gain... right? Let's let the dialogue speak for itself:

Cashier: "Bloated feeling, regret, remorse, a bigger waist, loss of self-esteem..."

So, okay, fine. We would probably all be better off eating Subway than eating McDonald's, at least if you had to do one or the other on a regular basis. But isn't perpetuating the idea that people should feel bad about themselves for being a bit overweight slightly problematic? I'm not saying that people should be fat, just that it's probably not the best idea to have everyone in the world obsessed with dropping ten pounds.

Cashier: "...loss of boyfriend..."

This line is the real reason this ad is in here. Loss of boyfriend! "Be careful not to put on any weight, ladies! Your man will dump your fat ass like that." I'm okay with encouraging healthy eating, but lines like this make the ad play more like a threat. "Eat that cheeseburger and you'll die alone. And probably years earlier, fat stuff." There's a definite difference between eating right and being unhealthily weight-conscious; it's not clear to me that Subway is recognizing that.

Cashier: "...shame, years of therapy, fries and a shake."

Years of therapy? For eating one cheeseburger? Hell, even if you ate one every day! Years of therapy? You're a fucking sandwich shop, Subway, not some panacea for the world's ills.

The thing I don't get about this is why Subway suddenly feels a need to resort to ads that bully rather than just sell their product. Entrepreneur Magazine ranks Subway the #2 franchise in the United States, #1 American-based franchise in the world, and #3 fastest-growing franchise (after having been #1 in three of the last four years). Within a few more years, if not sooner, there will be 30,000 Subway restaurants worldwide; McDonald's, the world's single most visible restaurant brand, has around 31,000. Subway has been phenomenally successful and is showing few signs of slowing down. So what is the fucking deal? Why does the advertising have to get so harsh? "Eating anywhere else will result in loss of self-esteem and years of therapy?" Really, Subway? Fucking really? I know it's supposed to be a humorous ad, but let's be real here - Subway is not actually kidding. Clearly they want everyone to go to Subway instead of competing fast food chains, and that's fine; I would expect them to. But a series of ads that basically attempt to shame the viewer into doing so? Maybe it's me, but that just seems counterproductive. When was the last time you bought anything out of guilt?


Quivering P. Landmass said...

It's not like Subway doesn't sell complete shit. Check out the stats on the Tuna Salad sandwich sometime.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiment. I think those ads are a pile of shit, really. But Ogilvy said that the two most effective marketing techniques are guilt and fear. So guilt is, in fact, a very effective technique.

LilySleeper said...
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