5 + 8
A creative and branding agency in Houston, Texas

Words + Internet

"Sandwiches" are for no one

The team is hungry. It’s past noon and this meeting has no end in sight. You’re tasked with ordering lunch for a group of people you know pretty well, but not intimately.  What do you do? I’ll tell you what not to do, Boy Wonder: order “sandwiches.”
To that point, the next time an office associate proposes just getting some ”sandwiches” for the meeting, think about just slapping them right in the face. A slap is a serious matter, and should be reserved for only the most indecent of proposals. A platter of “sandwiches” is grounds for light corporal punishment. I still remember being served my first supersub at a family reunion like it was yesterday (it was 1992).  In a park in Missouri, the entire Faust clan was gathered to reminisce and eat off a 600 foot Blimpie sub during the six-hour reunion.

I am placing “sandwiches” in quotations because I find them offensive only when they are grouped together in this most generic and inconsiderate way. When the party host offers me “sandwiches,” I see the whole practice as a shell game that I am assuredly going to regret playing. As I scour the serving tray, I do my best to act nonchalant as I ask if that is turkey or ham, tuna or chicken or, heaven help us,…egg salad. Besides, what is the common solution for not knowing the contents set before you? Oh, just bite into one of these mushy mysteries and see what you get. You’re just a hungry homo sapien. What do you care if you get meatball, falafel or fried fish? It’s a brown mass on bread and you’ll figure it out as you chew.

Hoagie don’t play that.
Now, watch me transition this into the world of marketing.

The Pontiac Aztek is the biggest failure in recent automotive manufacturing history. It failed for several reasons (you can read about if you care). One vital reason was compromise. This compromise was also hilariously foreshadowed in a Simpsons episode where Homer designs a car. A compromise is defined as an agreement that is reached by each side making concessions. Sandwiches are the ultimate concession (pun-intended). A sandwich made for everyone is ideal for no one. This is where so many marketers get it wrong. In their attempt to reach everyone, they end up speaking to no one. Most companies and agencies work very hard and spend a lot of cash to know their audience. But they’re so afraid of alienating someone (who will never buy their product), they miss out on speaking to the ones who actually want their product.

I get it. Why wouldn’t you offer your customers sandwiches? It’s easier and there is a heck of a lot less risk involved. Sandwiches are seemingly the safe choice. If you serve tacos al pastor, you’re going to disappoint vegetarians, pescatarians and Midwesterners (I’m allowed to make fun of my own family).

So…what if they don’t like it? Tough. They can have some sides or take their bland butt up to Panera Bread. Meanwhile, you’re going to surprise and delight the audience that never expected tacos al pastor. And, these are the people who matter to your business – or lunch meeting. This metaphor is starting to get a bit blurry.

This is not earth-shattering stuff. It comes down to the adage that if you try to say everything, you end up saying nothing at all. It is something we all know, but often don’t have the guts to pull the trigger on. The next time you scroll through Facebook ads or flip through a magazine, just take notice of all the “sandwich” ads, and the lack of al pastor. There’s a lot of ham and cheese out there.

So, remember, when you’re in charge of concessions, try and make some decisions instead.