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Are you diluting your marketing message?

Many restaurants in the Chicago area change their menu’s to accommodate the dietary needs of the Catholic community during Lent.

Vegetarian dishes like cheese pizza and pepper and egg sandwiches are on almost every local menu. The McDonald’s marquee glows with the promise of a $1 fish sandwich, and you can’t drive through the city without seeing signs for a Friday night fish fry.

As a Catholic, I appreciate the number of choices I have for meals on Friday, but the way most restaurants handle the menu change annoys me.

Restaurants opportunistically capitalize on the needs of a population (in this case, Catholics) without specifically acknowledging said population or why they are offering these dishes on a “temporary, limited time” menu.

They dilute their marketing messages (ignoring the “why”) rather than view Lent as an opportunity to connect with and embrace the community that financially supports them. I don’t expect to see, “Jesus is Savior” written on the menu, but something simple, like the sign above from Buona Beef, feels more honest.

I know it isn’t in every brand’s best interest to acknowledge or associate with particular interest groups, but if you benefit from their way of life, it seems like the right thing to do.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Am I being too extreme?

3 Comments

  1. Great points. If one only looked at advertising messages, one might believe that we are having Easter sales because of cute baby chickens, or something to do with bunnies.
    Many of us non-Catholic Christians also celebrate Lent and recognize the deep significance of this holiday season. As opposed to any reference that this holiday is the foundation for our faith, we get messages of sales, special menus, and passing notice of the observance of Good Friday without mention as to why that particular Friday is Good.
    I don’t think any of us seriously want commercial establishments to carry the core messages of Christianity for us – far from it. That isn’t their job. It’s ours. But acknowledgment of the genuine nature of these holidays might be a refreshing change.
    Great column Adrienne!

  2. admin admin

    Thank you for your response, Duane!

    Over this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to see the “Lent” message similar to that of Buona Beef’s posted in a few more restaurants.

    I agree we don’t want commercial establishments to carry our faith messages for us, but it sure is nice to be acknowledged when businesses are capitalizing on our faith.

  3. I appreciate the message as well. I am a Christian, but I do not participate in Lent. I found that the sign did catch my eye, but did not offend me, and in no way made me feel like Buona was carrying a message. It would be nice if everyone could just relax a little bit and not be afraid to just say what it is. Bravo to Buona, their marketing director, AND their food! 🙂

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