Mangled Message: Some Pictures Are Not Worth 1,000 Words

Our latest Mangled Message isn’t necessarily offensive or damaging, mind you—but it struck one reader as an odd waste. I agree.

The walls of his local quick-serve food franchise location (one specializing in wraps) are covered with a series of big branded pictures. I’m sure you have noticed that some fast-food locations will localize their spaces with pictures, Little League team trophies, plaques, and the like. Others will stick to food images or current promotions. This business, by contrast, apparently 364uses its wall space to show images such as these:


I guess that if you knock back a gyro wrap and fries then you’re likely to dance on a conference room table upon your return to the office—or perhaps start a pillow fight with your significant other back at home.

Again, there’s nothing especially awful (unless the dancing man falls on one of his colleagues or the young lady knocks her noggin on a bedside table) but this seems like a costly exercise in irrelevant large-scale color printing.

That reminds us of the five criteria for Mangled Messages:

  • Not authentic or believable
  • Detached from reality
  • Focused on the organization or sender, rather than the customer or receiver
  • Inconsistent, sending mixed signals across communication channels
  • Not conveyed skillfully, and perhaps by the wrong people for the situation

In this case, the table-top toe-tapping and pillow pugilism exemplify the first criterion; these scenes are disconnected from the wrap customer’s world.

Companies have for decades used the “slice of life” creative implementation in advertising, in which the consumer is shown facing a common, everyday situation (and the product is shown solving the problem). Where is the product in these happy consumers’ lives? I guess they are doing just fine without a wrap after all.

Find a Mangled Message—and support a worthy cause

Your nomination for a Mangled Message could mean a donation to a worthy cause! All you have to do is submit your idea on the Contact page of my website This month we again support Ambassadors of Compassion (, which is equipping thousands of at-risk youth with the resilience that will help them succeed in life.

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