# 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 “X^{y} – 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. “X^{y}” 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:

(http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=83309 and

http://www.themathpage.com/aprecalc/permutations-combinations-2.htm)

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 2^{n}. I can now see where Wendy’s got “X^{y}” 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 2^{n} incorrectly. Yes, Wendy’s shorthand does convey that they used some kind of an equation to figure out the answer, and X^{y }does relate better to Jane and John Q. Public than 2^{n}. 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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