20 July 2010
This past weekend we were out for an afternoon stroll when we stopped into an Au Bon Pain to rehydrate and use the loo. As I sipped my cloyingly sweet lemonade, my eye caught sight of a truly remarkable sign at the register:
My immediate thought was: Wow—someone in Product Merchandising is probably getting fired for this. But once my initial disbelief had subsided, I began to wonder whether ABP is actually smarter than we think. In an era when behavioral economics run rampant in marketing, it’s actually refreshing to consider that a brand might use such overt gestures to signal that They Know We Know—that they realize all the marketing tricks in the world won’t fool us, that we’re fully in control of the choices we make in our daily consumption. And while I will probably never know the rationale behind Au Bon Pain’s POP signage, I found it inspiring nonetheless.
The following three images envision a world in which a new type of marketing (and fine print!) emerges. One that’s radically transparent, just a little bit cheeky—and like the best friend who’s always pointing out the spinach stuck between your teeth—painfully honest.