The Mystery of Marketing

September 20, 2012 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’ve gotta tell you, I really don’t “get” marketing. Just when I think I’m starting to understand it, somebody goes and throws me for a loop.

Consider two recent commercials I saw on TV. The first was for Runza. It was yet another commercial in their “the customer is always wrong” line of marketing materials. I’ve ranted about these ads in the past but they still bug me. What Runza is trying to say is something like: “Look, we’ve got our niche and we’re good at it. We tried broadening our reach and stirring up our products and it just didn’t work. Remember theOven Stuff’d debacle? We’re going to stick with what we know.” And that would be fine. But their marketing instead comes across, to me at least, as smug and sarcastic. It’s very off-putting.

The other commercial was for Amigos. Now we all know that Amigos is about as low as you can get in the local Mexican food scene. Taco John’s is Misty’s in comparison. However, when your food looks like something that would make even a hardened restaurant inspector gag, is it really wise to give it repeated close-ups throughout a TV commercial? Their latest spots for their “cheesy burritos” zoom in on some sort of shiny, orange, semi-solid gunk that the voiceover claims is cheese. I sure hope not. If it’s cheese, it’s cheese that has given up. Eating that stuff would be an act of compassion and mercy, effects on your own health notwithstanding. And don’t get me wrong, I’m no Mexican food snob. I happily lunch at Taco Inn where they assemble your food right before your eyes with all the morose enthusiasm of a circus elephant. Amigos just needs to keep the camera farther from their food if they want to trick me into getting in the mood to eat there.

On a barely related note, what is this woman on the Amigos website yelling about?

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The Comments

Jeff September 20, 2012 at 2:20pm

This post sucks. Wtf, let’s just b*tch about fast food for a minute? Okay, bro.

Aaron September 20, 2012 at 2:25pm

Amigos is cheap fastfood. It’s not great. It’s way better than Taco John’s and even if it wasn’t, what’s the point here?

Imma get a cheesy for lunch, because they are delicious.

JT September 20, 2012 at 3:08pm

Sweet posts, bros! The point was that these are two odd marketing strategies for these local companies. Also, Amigos is garbage.

Brian September 20, 2012 at 4:05pm

I always thought they had gotten rid of the Yankee Burrito (hot dog with cheese in a tortilla, fried) because it may not be real good for you

Tim September 20, 2012 at 7:54pm

I think these popular local joints are relying on their past popularity and quality to sustain them.  Amigos, Valentino’s, Runza, have all gone downhill in the past decade.  Well, Amigos has always been gross, but portion sizes have gone down and prices up.  Runza used to have the best fast food burger, now not true. 

Here’s the deal with Valentino’s.  They had two types of their pizza: the low-quality stuff you get at football games and then the better stuff from the restaurant (not buffet.)  Now it is all game-day quality.

Mr. Wilson September 20, 2012 at 8:15pm

Now it is all game-day quality.

Bingo.

meatball September 21, 2012 at 3:18pm

I think Runza’s burgers are back and as good, if not better than, before. For awhile they went away from their looser, juicier, hand-patted patties to the thin, preformed ones found under the golden arches. But the original burgers appear to be back. While I still get a hankering for McDonald’s or Burger King, I do think Runza’s burgers are back on top of the fast-food heap.

Mr. T September 24, 2012 at 11:24pm

I think that Runza burgers are actually very good, and better than either McD’s or BK. However unfortunately, it doesn’t have what it takes to stand out among the crowded burger market like some of the really popular regional chains that have gained national reputations lately like Five Guys or In n’ Out.

At times I wonder to what extent the actual Runza sandwich would be popular outside of Nebraska. Sometimes I think it might be very successful in other midwestern states. I do think there is a market for a fast-food, old-school Euro style sandwich chain. Someone just needs to do it right, and yes, the marketing approach will be key.

Fletch September 25, 2012 at 1:30pm

They have tried it outside of Nebraska. They once offerred franchise opportunities. I don’t think it went well.

No doubt that their marketing sucks, too. My kids enjoy a kids meal from there. I’m the one in the family that really doesn’t ever want to go - nothing about their menu or the decor or ambiance or anything lures me in. If I do go, I stick with a salad, but I can get a similar salad for a better price elsewhere, or a larger salad for the same price elsewhere.

Swid September 25, 2012 at 2:06pm

If there’s anywhere that small-r runzas could be successful, it’s here in Kansas City. Many people are familiar with the (effectively) identical sandwich, the bierock. The large population of former Nebraska residents doesn’t hurt, either.

A Runza opened a little over a year ago in the Kansas suburbs. At the time it opened, it was intended to be the first in about a dozen or so opening in the area…it’s still the only one.

I took a bunch of my coworkers to Runza a couple months ago. They *really* play up the Nebraska ties in the restaurant’s decoration, and at least half the crowd besides our group were former Nebraskans. My coworkers’ impression of the food mirrored the consensus here: good burgers, decent fries/rings, no love at all for the runzas themselves (too doughy, meat too bland, not fans of cabbage).

Mr. T September 25, 2012 at 6:07pm

Runza itself may be beyond repairing. The quality and like-ability of the food is a subjective issue, but everyone can agree that the marketing approach sucks. Its just about as generic and industrial one can get for a cheap fast food environment/vibe.

Someone needs to try a more upmarket piroshki/stuffed sandwich type of chain. That *might* work well in some markets. Even in places like Seattle, people love good piroshki. One of the most popular and well loved places in Pike’s Place market is a piroshki joint. It just has to be done right.

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