I pinky swear that my abhorrence to the new Burger King ‘Whopper Virgins’ advertisements has nothing to do whatsoever with the fact that I don’t eat beef. I actually really dig their ‘Wake Up with the King‘ series with their immediately recognizable and very creepily-masked King Man making surprise appearances in folks’ bedrooms. It’s a smartly awkward group of commercials. My disgust at their attempt to be culturally cheeky in the ‘Whopper Virgins’ commercials grows from their blatant disregard at how ignorant and self-serving they come off.
The first commercial I saw had the Burger King crew going to rural Thailand in an attempt to find the ‘purest’ taste test possible in the perpetual food fight between the Big Mac and the Whopper. Those that have never even heard of the word burger, the voiceover tells us, are the people that will be taking the two burgers to the mat. What will they decide?
As you see, you are instructed to go to WhopperVirgins.com to find out. Now don’t get me wrong. Their advertisement was so effective in peaking my distaste for Burger King, if not also triumphant in offending me, that I did travel to WhopperVirgins.com to find out more. Twice. Now that’s marketing, kids. Yet what I found there was a 7 minute video showing a further sickening effort on their part to convince me that these ‘virgins’ to the burger would choose their delicacy over McDonald’s. It starts in documentary form with what we can assume is the director of the commercial describing the rare cultural discovery of these people’s first bite of a hamburger. He talks of their naivete and how they don’t really understand what they’re doing! “It took them a while to understand the dynamics of it,” he explains to us. Oh, let’s watch the silly Romanian grandfather in native garb play with his burger as he attempts to eat it layer by layer [cue laugh track here]. Doesn’t he know, silly native, that you have to pick it up? Of course, with such a complex comestible in front of their simple peasant pea-brains, we can only sit back and marvel at their inferior culinary culture.
This is to say nothing of the fact that Burger King spent loads of money flying in broilers via helicopter into these isolated areas, sent crews to foreign lands with full spectrum art direction, casting researchers and translators, when these obviously impoverished and, perhaps, under-educated folks were being taken advantage of in the name of the almighty American burger taste test. Couldn’t the money have been spent in a more philanthropically minded way? Sure, travel to Greenland in the name of anthropological study, but don’t offend your hosts by capitalizing on their ignorance of an unhealthy pop culture item.
But, wait. What!? Why!? Are you supposed to care that people in far-out Romania, Greenland or Thailand appear to choose their burger over their competitors? Will Americans actually care what Hmong Thai villagers think about their first foray into burgerdom so much so that it will persuade them to switch sides? I mean, is this Coke vs. Pepsi all over again? I can’t believe that taste tests ever convince people that they were drinking the wrong cola the whole time, or that one burger is better than any other. I say figure it out yourselves and leave those unaware of the burger, the few that actually remain, unknowing.
Posted by: Autumn.