Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whopper Virgins: More Pain from Crispin Porter & BK

About a year ago, Burger King launched themselves into the reality TV landscape with a commercial that utilized a classic marketing "deprivation exercise." The central premise of the ad was, "Hey, what if we stopped selling the one thing people come here to buy?" and the result ended up being, "It turns out people don't like it when they can't buy the one thing they came here for!" Because of this daring commercial experiment, the entire theory of human psychology was thrown into chaos, textbooks were rewritten, and legions of top research professors resigned in disgrace. Almost. Actually what happened was the exact thing that anyone with a brain would have predicted: people get angry when they can't buy a Whopper at a Burger King.

Funny thing: BK, and their stalwart marketing partner Crispin Porter + Bo-fucking-Gusky, aren't quite finished exploring the realm of ill thought-out reality advertising:

What happens when you take remote Chiang Mai villagers...

Man, BK. You've gone pretty low before -- low humor, low class, low accountability -- but now you're forcing destitute people in developing countries (and Thailand is, right now, wildly unstable and dangerous) to do your advertising? What, are they there for your amusement? How much does a Thai villager get paid to eat a burger?

Who've never seen a burger, who don't even have a word for "burger"...

Gee, people who don't know what good burgers are? Sounds like an excellent audience to judge burgers.

"You've never had blood cake before? Okay, try this pig blood cake. Now try this yak blood cake. Which was less disgusting? Oh dude! Yak blood cake totally beats the shit out of pig blood cake!!"

And ask them to compare Whopper versus Big Mac in the world's purest taste test...

Define "purest." This is beginning to sound like BK wants to take up the white man's burden here.

The Whopper is America's favorite, but what will these people choose

"These people"!!

"Yeah, I know you don't know what they are. They're burgers. Burgers. Just eat them. Okay, now pick one. No, pick the other one. Great, thanks. Now get back to your hut, or wherever you people live."

The Whopper Virgins will decide.

And when you go to the site you will find out they they will air a "documentary" in a week or so and reveal what the disenfranchised, burger-less peoples of the third world decided regarding Whoppers and Big Macs. Now what do you suppose they chose? It would be pretty embarrassing if Burger King spent all this money to advertise this, and it turned out that the Virgins picked Big Mac!

In his most recent post, Windier posited some criteria regarding the "worst commercial ever made." Let's evaluate the "Whopper Virgins" spot here: (a) being incredibly unfunny? Check. (b) featuring things that no human would ever say? In a way, yes -- certainly eating a Whopper is not something a Thai villager would ever do. (c) being really creepy. Oh yes. (d) Racist. Big check mark. And then I might also add (e) saying absolutely nothing useful or differentiating about the product. When you're asking people who lack the experience and interest to effectively evaluate your product to compare it against a competitor's, you're essentially admitting that you just have nothing worthwhile to talk about. I mean, you don't see NetJets asking me if I prefer owning a share of a private jet or owning my own jet outright. You know why? Because I have no way of judging between those two. I am not in their target audience.

Once again I ask: When will Burger King and Crispin Porter stop? Hey, why not call BK's customer relations (1-305-378-3535) and let them know how you feel?


Dana said...

I had this one friend who was raised vegetarian and the one time she did try a burger when she was older she puked. Most likely if these are really "burger virgins" they'll probably just get sick and have to determine which burger tasted the best coming up. This actually is pretty fucking bad though.

Windier E. Megatons said...

"What happened when a group of Sepoy soldiers were asked which greased ammunition pouch tasted better, the one with vegetable grease or the one with bacon grease?"

Patrick said...

Wow, this ad is quite offensive. I hope nobody from any Asian country hears about this. It kind of reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCKxWQCs3f0 Only it doesn't have the excuse of being from a different era.

c12h22o11 said...

To be fair, they've cast people from non-Asian countries in these "Whopper Virgin" ads too... what they really seem to be pointing and gawking at is country folk in traditional garb. "Hey, Ma, look at that pointy-haired little girl!"