Monday, December 31, 2007

All that yelling made me hungry

Crispin Porter + Bogusky is one of those too-cool-for-school ad shops that happens to be remarkably visible right now. Their clients are huge and well-advertised, so their work is difficult to ignore. Burger King, one of their biggest clients, has been a routine offender on this site, so it should come as no surprise that we think Crispin Porter + Bogusky should fuck off. If you'd like to read a nicely-written critique of the agency, check out this Slate article. If you'd like to look at their latest pile of total crapola on the airwaves, watch this video and read below:

Announcer: We stopped selling the Whopper for one day to see what would happen.

This is, for the record, actual footage of real people. Real people getting irked when they find out a fast food store has stopped selling their marquee product. Their reactions make sense, and it's obvious to predict what would happen. So why they bothered setting the commercial up as a faux science experiment is beyond me.

There are various embarrassing scenes of normal people yelling at the actors in this Burger King, most of which make everyone look insane. In the extended cut (I'm not going to bother linking to it since I don't want anyone to waste 7 minutes of their lives like I did), the people actually seem more reasonable and less bitchy. For instance, the lady who says "I want your manager" says "please" in the full version. So editing the commercial this way just makes people look like bigger idiots than they are -- a cheap shot by both Burger King and Crispin Porter.

Announcer: What happened was, people freaked.

Right, not shocking. This is what everybody expected (thanks for using the very adult word "freaked" by the way.) So what does this commercial tell us about Burger King? Well, they have something called the Whopper, and it's popular. So popular, in fact, that if you took it away, people would get kind of belligerent if you edited their reactions in a certain unfair, dickish way. Beyond that, all this says is the patently obvious.

What would happen if McDonald's took their Big Mac away? What would happen if the Coca-Cola Co. took Sprite away? What would happen if Crispin Porter + Bogusky took their Shitball Broadcast Commercial Department away? Is there a less interesting advertising concept than this?

In the extended version of this hidden camera bit, they have a scene where they put a McDonald's hamburger in the bag of someone who had ordered a Whopper. When the customer complains, the employee/actor says something about how BK couldn't have put that McDonald's hamburger in there because McDonald's (and Wendy's) fries their burgers, and Burger King only has flame broilers. Now that's interesting. That's differentiating. That might even be good enough to make a commercial out of. At the very least you could use that claim to set yourself apart. Instead, we get rough-hewn, dull advertising that's packaged like it's cutting edge. This is not unique. This is not creative. And for the record, seeing people freak out isn't exactly a universal appetite enhancer.


Windier E. Megatons said...

That emo/goth kid has approximately the least authentic reaction of anyone ever. If he's actually a real person and not another actor, I would still not have put him in the ad because he reacts like a bad actor would. It's kind of embarrassing. There's another version of the ad in which he's much more prominent, which is a terrible, terrible ad (even next to this one) as a result.

Two other things stupid about this campaign:

(1) Burger Queen? Nice casual homophobia and/or sexism there, guy. Why did that make it to air, exactly?

(2) I assume that most people who go to Burger King and order a Whopper are, you know, fans of the Whopper. Am I supposed to be surprised that people would be upset that a product they very much enjoy has been discontinued? There is not a famous product in the world that would fail to elicit such a reaction from the people who purchase it regularly. Remember New Coke, for Christ's sake? You are not making a real point here, Burger King.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Yeah, the "Burger Queen" comment is objectionable. They're really going for the lowest common denominator. Classic CP+B advertising.

Merin Clonkey said...

I kind of liked the campaign - as a one-off, anyway. I haven't had a Whopper since the '80s, and even thinking about it now makes me gag a little.

But now, the little bit of territory BK owns in my brain now includes a little bit of respect for the Whopper.

It's not as genius as Counterfeit Mini, but it's still a fun idea. And most everyone I know, including you, sat through the video.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Counterfeit Mini is far cleverer. Putting Mini Cooper logos and stripes on a yacht-like 70's gas-guzzler? That's funny. Showing people screaming for 30 seconds? Annoying.

The only reason I sat through the extended video is because I saw the commercial on TV, and I felt it was my duty to see the whole thing before I blogged about it. Trust me, I took no joy in watching it.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

I'm a fair-minded individual, and I like to share all relevant information:

People are remembering this ad like crazy. But I want to point out one section, though, that I find particularly salient:

"The more crucial question, though, isn't whether people are watching or recalling spots; it's whether the spots are motivating them to buy Whoppers. On that score, it can't be judged yet."

I guess we'll see.

Tyler said...

I saw one version of this commercial where one of the disgruntled customers mentioned how without the Whopper, she had no reason to go to BK.

I guess that speaks well of the Whopper, but what does it say about the other 20 items on their menu?

Windier E. Megatons said...

I'm guessing they're not motivating people to buy more Whoppers, since the target audience for this ad sure seems to be people who already like Whoppers. I've said it before and I'll say it again - it is in NO WAY surprising that people who regularly go to Burger King would be disappointed if Burger King stopped selling their most popular product. The question is why anyone else should care. These ads do nothing to suggest that.

Anonymous said...

After watching this ignorant commercial over and over makes me want to avoid the place altogether.....I forever have to wonder what kind of lunatics might be standing in line with me...the people they have on their commercial remind me of the IQ challenged walking brain dead that always wind up being interviewed by the local news in situations like a tornado striking a trailer court! As Carlos Mencia would say....Da DA Duh...'s only a greasy hamburger people....get a life and if anyone at Burger King is reading this please salvage what little respect you have left and take those annoying commercials off the air.