Home > management, marketing, race, religion, showbiz misogyny, stupidity > Cool FAIL by Burger King – again

Cool FAIL by Burger King – again


Russ Klein evidently spent his childhood ringing the doorbells of neighbors and running away and got caught plenty. Or John Chidsey, CEO of Burger King, had friends who did that, and he never got the guts to do so himself, so he’s making up for it now (no surprises here, apparently: “We want to stay on the cutting edge of pop culture,” says CEO John Chidsey, 44, whose office is lined with photos of himself with celebrities from Sheryl Crow to Tiger Woods.).

First off, you can’t be entirely cool-based if you’re aiming to be a high market share brand selling at a low price point for your category. That’s way too many things at once for too many people.
And second, One can be ‘kewl’ or edgy without falling off the edge entirely, really. Someone please show this awesomely written article to Burger King, stat:

Burger King’s MO: Offend, Earn Media, Apologize, Repeat

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — How’s this for a global marketing strategy? Each month target a different international market with an ad that offends some segment of the population, then, after earning a lot of media attention, apologize and pull the ad.

That’s the pattern of offense Burger King has established in the past few months. Most recently, the fast feeder had cultural and religious groups screaming today in the latest installment of what has become a series of monthly melees. A few hours after an ABC News reported that ads in Spain depicted the Hindu goddess Lakshmi atop a ham sandwich — with the caption “a snack that is sacred” — Burger King announced that it would pull the ads. Many Hindus are, of course, vegetarian.

According to the statement: “Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support a limited-time-only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone. Out of respect for the Hindu community, the in-store advertisement has been removed from the restaurants.”

This has all become familiar. In April, Burger King pulled and said it would revise a European TV spot for its Texican Whopper that had proved offensive to Hispanics. In it a small, masked wrestler draped in a Mexican flag was carried around by a tall gent in jeans and a cowboy hat. Parents expressed dismay in the chain’s online promotion of “Star Trek” in May, in which the chain’s iconic King character kicked a succession of people in the crotch. Last month brought “The 7-incher,” a promotion in Singapore for a long, fat burger that was sure to “blow your mind away.” A woman’s head with an awed, open mouth accompanied the picture of the sandwich.

Emphasis mine above. So they did put out and them withdraw the ads that were offensive to Hindus and to Hispanics. Good for that. Of course, they never withdrew the advertisements that were offensive to women (Pshaw! Our ‘superfan’ is 18-34 MALE, y’know!) – e.g. the woman’s head ad (also called the ‘blow-up doll’ ad: here), or the pedophilic Spongebob Squarepants ad (here).

My issue here is not just that the advertising is provocative, or that it’s really insulting – my bigger problem here is that the advertising is SO pointless! It’s (A) bad, (B) ineffective advertising that is (C) NOT built around a solid insight and (D) does not communicate any real benefit. The (E) drama is all misplaced, and the (F) branding is really non-existent. Finally, (G) there’s really poor benefit vizualization – and the (H) execution is poor – the food looks unappetizing!

Any one of the eight strikes above, and at P&G – or where I work now – we’d’ve been forced back to the drawing board. I can just imagine the Burger King ads being shown at a advertising workshop as an example of ‘how to spend Millions of $$ and not communicate effectively’.

Look at the Spongebob ad, for instance – at the end of 30 seconds all you remember are square butts on little girls, and a sick Spongebob going around measuring the girls with a measuring tape. They’re not advertising a square burger, or a larger burger (to explain the tape) – they’re advertising their version of the Happy Meal. There’s no logical link (unless it was a convoluted pun on measuring tape = ruler = king = Burger King. Really?). I didn’t even recall that it was a Burger King ad until I went to register my outrage.

Or the Lakshmi ad mentioned above – how is a ‘sacred snack’ a meaningful consumer benefit or drawn on an insight? Do you eat more of a sacred snack than one that’s not? Do you plan for it and schedule your day around it, like you would for a religious event (uhm, isn’t it supposed to be fast food)? And if you HAD to go with that benefit, isn’t there a more effective, relatable way to depict ‘sacred’ to Spaniards than via Lakshmi? If you wanted to show a new Asian line, or spicy food, or new exotic items, I can imagine this kind of an image making some convoluted sense to a small-town, unsophisticated, untraveled creative director. But a Hindu goddess to sell a hamburger? Massive FAIL.

It’s gotten so bad I can’t be bothered to put out an action alert – I can just sit here and laugh my ass off at these idiots working in the ‘Miami-based Burger King’

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