About a month ago I posted about Burger King's new Whopper Virgins campaign. They were airing a teaser commercial that showed how they traveled to remote places (Thailand countryside, Greenland, Romania, etc.) and asked locals who have never eaten a burger whether they preferred a Whopper or a McDonald's Big Mac. Unsurprisingly, the initial spots incited unease and even anger -- which is what tends to happen when you use poor, isolated peoples as guinea pigs for your fast food products and then put them in your commercials rather than, you know, helping them not starve to death.
So the new ads are way toned down. Here's one example:
Announcer: This woman is a Whopper virgin.
The commercial I really wanted wasn't on YouTube, but it shows a Transylvanian farmer donning an amusing traditional outfit and tiny hat, and the voiceover asks him, "Was it good for you?" Ahh, unnecessary sexuality shoe-horned into a commercial for food. That could only be the hackish work of... Crispin Porter + Bogusky! (To summarize my feelings on that agency, just know that the authors of this site are probably not going to get jobs over there any time soon.)
At least there's no outright, creepy sexuality in this spot -- aside from calling a middle-aged Inuit woman a virgin of some kind.
She's never eaten a burger.
That reminds me. I need someone who doesn't know how to read to tell me if they like this blog or not. I'll publish the results at the top of the page next week.
Will she prefer the Whopper or the Big Mac?
The tension is killing me, Burger King! Just tell me, already, which burger did she like?! Will it possibly be the one you're promoting in this commercial?!?!!!?1111!?
Inuit Woman's translation: "I like this one."
Announcer: It appears she's got a taste for flame-broiled beef.
Well, that settles that! One out of one Inuit people who have no concept of burgers prefers the Whopper! Uh, McDonald's? Might as well close those 14,000 stores, my friends. You've been discredited.... all thanks to the crack research team over at Crispin Porter + Bogusky!
Of course all this didn't stop Crispin Porter from being voted agency of the year by Adweek. In their defense, yes, they won a ton of business this year -- including that huge Microsoft account with the confounding Bill Gates spot. On the other hand, give me a fucking break. Here's an exceprt from that article:
With the Gates-Seinfeld spots coming and going in a flash, it was widely assumed Microsoft pulled them early, in a tacit admission they had flopped. Not the case, says Rob Reilly, Crispin's co-ecd, who, along with co-chairman Alex Bogusky, led the creative pitch for the estimated $300 million Windows assignment in late 2007.
"The point of the Bill and Jerry stuff was to get people thinking about Microsoft in a different way," says Reilly. "So, when 'I'm a PC' came, you were ready for something different. It was always designed to be two weeks. It did exactly what it was supposed to do."
I'm sorry, what? You guys gave Seinfeld ten million dollars, remember? You wanted to pay him ten million just to use him in two commercials? And the result was "exactly" what it was supposed to be? Fuck off.
There's just so much bullshit with the attention whores at CP+B, and no one ever calls their work what it is -- vapid noise. Here's what they do for your brand -- they get publicity, at the expense of everything your brand stands for. Take that Whopper Virgins campaign -- loads of press. But was it good press? There simply is such a thing as bad publicity, especially when you're trying to sell products. Even the response from the normally sympathetic BK audience was tepid -- those commercials on YouTube were getting like 2.5 and 3 stars on average. With the grade inflation on YouTube that's like getting an F. I even saw one comment (not from me, I promise), that said "I'm done with Burger King."
Once again I have to ask -- when will marketers in America end their regrettable love affair with Crispin Porter?