September 16th, 2022 - Brand

Pork chop promises leave a bad taste

The other day a mouth-watering email from a local specialty butcher caught my eye. Enchanted, I scrolled through delicious how-to videos of brined pork chops, learning to reverse sear, carve and stunningly plate a gigantic two-bone chop.

This was an email that did its job. I dreamt about that chop – but not just the chop, the experience of cooking the chop. Following along with the videos, from start to perfectly plated finish. Topping the gigantic chop off with the vibrant green chimichurri sauce also shown in the video. 

A week later, I decided it was time to recreate the experience and I slipped away from my desk on a busy Friday to head to the butcher shop. Sadly, my dreams of impressing friends with a gorgeous piece of pork ended abruptly. I arrived and eagerly described the email. The woman behind the big meat-filled counter was perplexed and eventually lead me away from the fresh delicacies to the freezer, where she got on her knees and moved things around on the bottom shelf, eventually pulling out a flat, skinny, sad and frozen chop that looked nothing like the beautiful specimen in the video. 

After some back and forth, I pulled out my phone and scrolled to the email – the one that had so perfectly done its job and lured me to the store. It turns out that despite the email stating the said chop was available, this wasn’t the case. To get the Flintstone-sized, double-bone, brined deliciousness, you had to order it seven to 10 days in advance. 

‘But it tastes the same,’ she assures me, referring to the frozen and sad piece of pork unearthed from the bottom of the freezer.  Uh okay, but what about the experience? I longed to recreate the masterpiece that tantalized me in the videos. 

Experience, after all, is the true meaning of brand. Brand is not the retro-inspired logo, the fancy social media aesthetic, or that the owner cleverly calls the store a ‘butchery’ and himself a ‘meat scientist’. It’s not even about that perfect pitch, laid out in a visually stunning email. 

Brand is about matching your marketing to the actual in-store experience. And sometimes, marketers forget about this important caveat, creating emails and social media stories that captivate but the promises made aren’t reality. 

This is the worst mistake a company can make because a broken promise feels a lot like a lie. 

I left the ‘butchery’ empty-handed, ticked that I’d wasted a precious 45 minutes of my day, and frustrated that I now had to think of something else to serve for dinner. I drove home thinking about the other times we’d stopped in at the same shop – inspired by what we’d seen in their marketing – and been underwhelmed by the service. 

So, last Friday night, instead of reverse searing a delectable pork chop, I poured myself a glass of wine and hit unsubscribe on the email and unfollow on Instagram. I’ll miss the eye candy, but I’m done being lied to. 

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.