The St. Hubert Logo: A Psycho-Engineered Image?

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

Many of us see the St. Hubert family restaurant logo regularly--and often unconsciously--while driving to work, cleaning out the mailbox of junk mail, or numbly watching those pesky advertisements on TV or the Internet. The logo, featuring a humanoid cartoon rooster dressed as a waiter, can be seen as having been designed to make you beg to eat chicken at St. Hubert. Let us see how.

Appetizing colours fill the logo: the red reminds us of rare meat, the yellow no doubt signifies golden fries and the flame used to make it all happen. The rooster-waiter on the logo has a large red plume, stylized somewhat like a punk’s hairdo, perhaps subliminally appealing to the youngsters looking for a sizzling bite to eat. Simultaneously, the tuxedo on the rooster-waiter softens the hearts of the older clientele.

The red cockscomb in the shape of a plume may well be a device neutralizing any stray mental images of animal bloodshed. While it may in fact refer to the inevitable bodily liquid spilled when the chicken is killed, the fine and elaborate outline of this red, alarming hairdo imposes clear-cut boundaries that contain the “blood”, creating a clean break between the tragic death of a real chicken and the tasty meal that sits with great comfort on your plate. The white gloves the rooster-waiter is wearing further inspire in us a sense of cleanliness, and so the messy annihilation is shut out of the consciousness. We can eat in peace.

Rendering the rooster-waiter into a cartoon character is instrumental to neutralizing mental images of violence. In cartoons the frequent incidents of violence are extreme yet not quite real, and it's usually “undoable”. In many cartoons, no matter what happens to a character—whether it is blown up, dismembered, or hammered into the earth—it comes back in full health for further adventure. The use of a cartoon picture also appeals to kids wanting to eat at the restaurant, and invites them into an air of wacky fun.

One more technique used in the logo makes us easily accept eating chickens. The feast has been sanctioned by a special authority and power: the king of the chickens, that is the rooster. He himself is serving you as seen in the logo, so it is evident he has also decreed the fate of his “subjects”. Everything seems to have gone through the uppermost channels. The fact that a king is serving us is also quite flattering.

The restaurant’s first location was found on St. Hubert street in Montreal in the 1950s. However, the name also makes us think of another figure of authority: St. Hubert, the protector saint of the hunters. There’s nothing like an air of saintliness to counter the evil spectre of factory chicken farming that may cling to our ideas of chain restaurants and threaten to spoil our culinary experience.

Visiting St. Hubert on impulse is triggered by a special element in the logo: the single raised finger of the rooster-waiter. He is clearly signaling that you have to wait just one minute for the meal to arrive. For a hunger-stricken, salivating human, this is the perfect waiting time. You never have to plan a visit to St. Hubert: you can walk in at any moment in a hunger emergency.

Psycho-marketing devices can also be found in the St. Hubert chain outside of the logo. For example, to foster a feeling of academic accomplishment connected to serving chicken and ribs, in 1979 the restaurant opened St. Hubert University to train its employees. Another fun fact to fathom is that the sexual element is not lacking from the experience at this family restaurant. Some of us might remember a television commercial in which a young man sits down in the restaurant as a young waitress approaches. There is clearly attraction. After much smiling the man sheepishly orders... a breast!