Saturday, May 27, 2006

Martin Burger King Jr? No thanks.

Ok, I'm not trying to pick on Burger King but I can't help it if they do stuff that ticks me off. The latest campaign from BK takes a page from Carl's Jr (Hardees for you in other parts of the country) and attempts to firmly plant burgers as "man food". I'm not sure what's the official name of the campaign but I'll call it the "I am man" campaign. If you must, you can watch the TV spot here, someone YouTubed it.

I have no problems with associating burgers as man food. The problem I have is the imagery within the ad. It's supposed to elicit feelings of revolution. The men in the ad are unapologetic and their manifesto (hehe, MANifesto) is "We're sick of having to hide our burger desires". That's cool, no problems with that.

What bugs me is the "I am man" signs from the TV spot. These are blantant rip-offs of the signs carried during civil rights protests: the "I am a man" signs. Sell burgers any way you want but hijack and, by doing so, demean, a historically significant and emotionally poignant part of the civil rights movement and you've gone too far. I'm disgusted by this. Call me a prude, say that I don't get the joke, or say that "it's just an ad" all you want but this is offensive to the real men that carried the real signs.

I'm a marketer, I know marketers are evil but this goes too far. You don't use imagery from something this noble to sell your stupid burgers. Hey, remember the dude from Tiananmen Square that stopped the tanks? Maybe someone should borrow that to sell deodorant with stinky-tank-stopping power. What about the Vietnamese monk and his act of self-immolation? I'm sure an easy tanning lotion could borrow some imagery. Offended yet? Good, because that's how I feel about this BK campaign.

Dear Burger King Execs: Turn on your famous flame broilers and use it to fire the brand manager in charge, then fire the agency and then put your own hands there for a few seconds; just so you learn never to do it again. Thanks!

[Update: I realize there are feminist issues in the ad that could offend just as much but I thought I'd try to stay focused and let others deal with those topics]

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