advertising that’s too smart?


I was annoyed by Wendy’s this evening. I’m sitting there eating my spicy chicken sandwich and there on the sack it says “Xy – We figured out that there are 256 possible combinations to enjoy your hamburger. Luckily someone was paying attention in Math class.” or something very close to that. It’s been a while since Calculus class, but I knew that formula was just wrong. To figure out combinations, you have to use factorials and summations. “Xy” was not going to work to get you that answer. I don’t know why but it made me want to smack someone in their marketing department. Here is the equation I would have been expecting:


( and

OK. Yes, I did have to look up the exact equation – like I said it’s been a while since I did any calculus. I did not realize that the summation to figure out this particular problem simplified to 2n. I can now see where Wendy’s got “Xy” but 2 is NOT a variable. From a purely mathematical standpoint, I still want to smack someone in their marketing department. If you’re going to tell your consumers you used some big math to figure something out, use the big impressive equation; don’t simplify 2n incorrectly. Yes, Wendy’s shorthand does convey that they used some kind of an equation to figure out the answer, and Xy does relate better to Jane and John Q. Public than 2n. BUT I would still argue that if you are going to provide a precise answer, then you should provide a precise formula. An exact answer equaling an ambiguous variable constitutes an unbalanced equation and at least one annoyed customer. Smack!

Wendy’s Marketing Department ≠ Brilliant

And that’s my final answer. I feel better now.

– jay a. moore

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