The End of Slogans


Burger King has a new slogan, and it sounds like nonsense: “Be your way.” Be your way. Be… your way. What does this mean? It is not clear.

The last one was less confusing. Have it your way: “It” refers to “Burger King food.” To “have it” a certain “way” suggests that it can be altered to align with special preferences. These preferences are yours. Have it your way. Burger King will change its food for you, a little.

Now, Be your way: Hmm. “Be your way” suggests that a person can “be a way.” But this, like Burger King’s last slogan, sounds peeved: “Have it your way” is a phrase used to end an argument; “be your way” reads like “be that way,” which nobody says when they’re happy, so the new slogan only works with knowledge of the prior slogan’s usage of “your way.” Have it your way — also, now, be your way. But that too has issues: “Your way” used to be a burger configuration; now you must extrapolate from that an entire identity. A customer happy with having it his way is now faced with adapting that order into a WAY, as in a way of life, a way of existing. So is the new slogan in fact a universal maxim, divorced from the burger context entirely? Maybe! The tautological slogan is in vogue right now. LAX, the airport, now promotes itself with “LAX is happening.” Our slogans are collapsing in on themselves again and again and again, until they reach a single point. Burger King: Yes. Burger King: You.

The press release accompanying the announcement lays it out like this:

[The slogan] reminds people that no matter who they are, they can order how they want to in Burger King restaurants and that they can and should live how they want anytime.

That sentence zooms out pretty quickly! (Plus, most Burger Kings aren’t open 24 hours.) That Burger King now feels the need to tell us 1) that we can order whatever we want, but 2) that we should be however we want as well, suggests that it does not fully believe that our years of having it our way were totally honest or accurate — that, in fact, our way was not really ours.

So maybe this is actually a violent coup: We had things our way, which was actually one of Burger King’s ways, and now Burger King says we should be that way, because what else are we than an agglomeration of purchasing preferences? That would be horrible, but the reality is worse: That this is all just nothing, an arbitrary word nightmare summoned by the marketing department in the name of change:

“Be Your Way’ is a better reflection of who we are and how we want to interact with our guests,” said Axel Schwan, Burger King global chief marketing officer, in a press release. “And, the executions under Be Your Way will showcase our guests being their own way in whatever iteration that may be.”

Rude! These branding people hate us all so much! If it’s any consolation, I’m sure they hate themselves too.

Image via Louise Thompson.