Thursday, June 26, 2014

Arby's is Delicious (TM)

As I was driving the other day, a phrase that caught my attention and has stuck with me. Now, studies have been done that reveal that every single day the average American is exposed to thousands of advertisements. TV and radio ads are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless ads, logos and slogans that glare right at us on the road and around our town, even in our homes. Look up right this second. What companies are glaring right at you?  I see Dell, Gateway, AMC Theaters and U.S. Cellular logos.

But the slogan that caught my eye the other day was on the side of a soft drink glass. ARBY'S IS DELICIOUS (TM). Now, I don't necessarily disagree with that statement. At times Arby's is indeed delicious, but I find that I need to be in the mood for a Beef and Cheddar with lots of Arby's Sauce to really proclaim that in all caps. Usually when I try something different at Arby's I'm left just feeling like ARBY'S IS EXPENSIVE.

Regardless of all that, what I was left with the other day was the reminder right there in my car's cup holder that ARBY'S IS DELICIOUS.  I imagine if you read the statement ARBY'S IS DELICIOUS enough you might just come away always believing that... until you the next time you try an overpriced brisket sandwich. Then it will dawn on you again: "oh yea, Arby's is just okay... sometimes."

The chain that probably does the most with ramming how awesome they are down your throat is the burger place Five Guys.  I don't think they have anything printed on their cups, and you're not going to find Five Guys on TV or on too many billboards, but what you will find is that when you eat at a Five Guys you're going to be over-saturated with Five Guys propaganda. And yes, I do call it propaganda. Windows, signs, framed pictures all proclaim that you are eating the greatest burgers ever created and the most fantastic french fries that ever been served to human beings. After all, Washingtonian, New York Magazine and Atlanta This Week all say so. Jimmy Marks of Savannah, Georgia gave them four forks. Sometimes I'm left feeling queasy in my stomach because of the slogans. The red color scheme and the starkness of their signs remind me of something communist and sinister. I sometimes wonder if this is how it felt eating in Chairman Mao's re-education camps with stark slogans glaring down at you: "Chairman Mao is great..." "Chairman Mao provides for your every need."

The gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the cross is what we are called to proclaim. We do a pretty good job on Sunday mornings with that. There are solid ministries that get the word out via radio stations and some cable channels. But even that is a mixed bag. There are ministries preaching a gospel of love and service through their actions. Those will get some media coverage and Facebook blasts, but can easily get lost. At times the message about God, Jesus and the work of Jesus' followers is mighty soft compared to the messages of the corporate world.

I think it says a lot about the hollowness of the message when companies need to drown us in their slogans thousands of times a day. It reveals some desperation. Maybe if it's said enough, then people will believe it. That's what Mao hoped to do. But his best results came from a good batch of terror mixed with the slogans.

Wonderfully, the message of Jesus Christ has real meat underneath, unlike the rest. Jesus is truth... and the more it's message is suppressed the more powerful it becomes.  So whether it be easy or hard, let's keep the message out there: JESUS IS LORD. Let's keep pointing to the truth: YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Let the people know YOU ARE OF MORE VALUE THAN MANY SPARROWS. Shout out: COME TO ME AND YOU WILL FIND REST.

Every year the world tries to strangle our message with more ads and slogans and logos. I would image the day will come when on an average day we will look at 10,000 or more. Even after that day comes, real truth will still only be found in Christ. Keep that message out there. A million cups may claim that ARBY'S IS DELICIOUS (TM) but it's rarely the truth.