12.13.08


Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s recent campaign for Burger King made my skin crawl a little. I don’t eat fast food and neither does my wife. I quit eating it in my teens and just never went back to it. I need a french fry fix like any other guy from time to time but usually get it at a regular restaurant. I worked at McDonalds when I was in highschool, and I used to sneak into the stock room and look for ingredient lists to see what they actually put in the food. It isn’t even food when it boils down to it. It is more like something that is engineered in a way that it becomes just a taste experience with zero nutritional value. I also have my own theories on how eating stuff like that might give you cancer, not to mention diabetes, so I just started steering clear of it all together. I wish I could say the same for alcohol but I do have some vices. Damn you whiskey.

Anyway, this campaign is raising eyebrows all over and really getting to some people. I honestly think that is the whole point and that reaction is the whole reason for the campaign and is the campaign. Otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing about it here. I just think it is exploitive frankly. But advertising is sometimes exploitive when it needs to be. If anything I am sure it will make some people curious just how good a whopper tastes. Personally I could care less because I am still not going to eat one and after so many years (probably something like 12-14 years now). I honestly can’t remember what they taste like, nor do I have any craving for one, so seeing someone eat one doesn’t even make me hungry.

It does strike me as sad though that a business and just people in general would spend all that money and go all that way to do something like this. I am sure millions were spent on this campaign and is something like this worth it?

I don’t know. It just makes me sad. What do you think and how does it make you feel?

written by Christopher | tags: , ,

29 Responses to “CP+B: Whopper Virgins”

  1. Fuck CP+B Says:

    This post just popped up in my rss-feed and i couldn’t agree more!

    Someone needs to kick CP+B in the nuts. They’ve been putting out so much crap lately.

    They got 300 mio $ for the Micro$oft advertising budget and yet all they could come up with is to rip off Apple’s “I’m a mac” campaign. And then they spent $10 mio on douche bag Jerry Seinfeld alone and what for? For some of the most stupid and boring viral-ads ever created. Imagine what else could’ve been done with that money.

    And now this. Polluting the planet to get their stupid creatives and film crew all around the world for this incredibly stupid ad to prove how much better the whopper vs the big mac tastes. Yay! Not to speak of the underlying corporate imperialism and racism.

    And they probably already dream of all the stupid awards they wish to get for this piece of shit ad.

  2. will Says:

    seriously, this is hands down the most offensive advertising i’ve ever seen. worse than any sort of sexist, violent, or racist advertising. taking the worst part of our culture and forcing it upon isolated indigenous people to make a buck? it kind of makes me sick that this kind of thing is my job.

    leave these people alone. if this was the culture they wanted they would have developed it on their own.

  3. Eli Says:

    Wow. I have been more and more disgusted with advertising lately (design being the close cousin these days), but this seriously takes the cake. And in the most cliche manifestation possible: a North American feeding a fast food hamburger to an isolated indigenous people. The whole tone of the ad is the worst part . . . they act like modern day imperialist explorers exchanging exoticism for capitalism. Did they get around to converting anybody while they were at it?

  4. Shane Says:

    Those poor people. I bet their stomachs exploded soon after eating those things and woke up the next day craving hamburgers. Thumbs down for CP+B.

  5. Manu Says:

    It’s simply disgusting and clearly shows the lack of respect that the corporate america has for foreign cultures.

  6. nick Says:

    george w. bush school of advertising?

  7. adevar Says:

    speechless. still feel west is the best? wtf

  8. bnourmous Says:

    it’s a bite of a burger to people who have never tried it. big deal.
    don’t take yourselves so seriously people.

  9. oh it's a feh Says:

    honestly by posting this viral ad campaign on your blog you already support it whether you want it or not. cause that’s what it’s all about people posting it and therefore having other people looking at it and discussing it. of course the campaign is offensive and don’t you think that the creators wanted exactly this result to happen that people start to discuss it in order that this viral campaign works and makes it way throught the net to reach as many customers as possible?
    and by the way I think that it’s not even true that they actually tested people who “don’t know” what a burger is? do you honestly believe someone like that still exists and do you also believe that people in especially romania or groenland always run around in their traditional clothes? the whole thing is staged! advertising is telling you tons of lies making you believe it’s true that’s the whole point of selling stuff!

  10. Tony Says:

    This campaign seems to be popping up all over the advertising blogosphere (which I honestly think is the point) and I will post the same comment here I have everywhere else. This is no more exploitative than having these same people make shoes or iPods for pennies a day. Do I agree with any of those practices? No. But seriously if you want to fight injustice why don’t you organize around breaking up sweat shop labor used by large companies instead? I can’t believe these people weren’t compensated in some way for appearing in these spots, and all they were asked to do was eat a hamburger. Sure it’s a garbage meal, but they basically were given free food. Is it really unethical to feed people? And before you answer that question take a look at your clothes and shoes and gadgets and see how many third world countries they were made in, you may be exploiting people more than the whopper every day.

  11. Fuck CP+B Says:

    Tony, I think what we’re talking about is the symbolism behind it. Of course we’re all aware that we’re part of a system exploiting third world countries for our shiny gadgets.

    Oh and to all those people who think it’s a good thing for BK since everybody is talking about it, do you really think negative press is good for a product? Just because it’s being talked about so much doesn’t mean those people will go and buy a whopper but probably rather boycott it.

  12. astrid loveless Says:

    Ever so coincidentally, this exact same sentiment hit (well, REALLY hit) me yesterday after seeing the ad again and foremost this as expressed in part of post #2 above is how it made me feel with offensive being the primary operative word: “seriously, this is hands down the most offensive advertising i’ve ever seen. worse than any sort of sexist, violent, or racist advertising. taking the worst part of our culture and forcing it upon isolated indigenous people to make a buck?” it also totally amazed me that as a “culture” we can be so self-absorbed and self righteous and so blatantly arrogant and obtuse! (not to mention that it is totally insulting because i highly doubt one of those people would have actually liked a Whopper at all…my simultaneous first thought was that introducing such garbage into their systems would make them sick.

  13. LUX Says:

    I just returned from a wonderful trip to Thailand. The “remote village” of Chiang Mai mentioned in the first version of the commercial is actually the second largest city in Thailand!

    That is like saying “the remote village of Los Angeles.” CP+B really screwed this one up, I’m sure I’m not the only person in America who knows Chiang Mai is a metropolis.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai

    Thanx! LUX

  14. Jennifer Says:

    Why don’t they bring along a little smallpox while they’re at it…

  15. Jamie Says:

    You aren’t doing much to veil your elitism on this post… What you are exhibiting here, is a clear case of Nascar blindness- “This disease is the strongly held belief that if no one in your little bubble of upscale, artsy Bobo friends is into something, then clearly no one else is, either.” (From Alan Wolk, http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/community/columns/other-columns/e3i63073cda9189a10cf9abcf572b9588df?imw=Y) What I’m saying is, just because you don’t like Burger King, doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t. This is serious revenue for CP+B, they would be foolish to turn it away. Whether or not you see the companies product fit for consumption, (based on no evidence whatsoever, by the way), is irrelevant. These people were not force fed, or exploited. They were probably happy for a chance to eat a burger.

  16. Christopher Says:

    Jamie, it’s not elitist to say I don’t like nor do I eat fast food.

    I was raised in a small town in Nebraska and live in a little 2 bedroom apartment with my wife. My wife was born and raised in the poorest part of Brazil. She now works as a nurse at a clinic where they treat people who don’t have access to health insurance. The last thing either of us are is elitist. Yes we are educated but using the word ‘elitist’ is absolute and total bullshit. Nice try though.

    My wife watches people come into her clinic everyday that are new to America and live hard lives where a lot of times all they can afford to eat is fast food. Many of them develop diabetes and have fast food to thank for it. Fast food is crap. Liking something is one thing, needing access to affordable healthy nourishing food is another. America is probably the only country in the world where the poor people are fat and the rich people are skinny. Its a backwards society. Companies like McDonalds and Burger King are run by the same kind of people that run companies like Phillip Morris. They are interested in profit, not health and wellbeing. Food is a necessity and its an awful thing that we keep pushing fabricated food on people that can afford little else to eat and making them sick so a few already super-rich people can get even richer. Its unethical and it is flat out wrong. Making money that way is a blight on society. I don’t care what anyone says. That’s what I think and if it is elitist then I don’t give a shit. Its elitist to think that making money off of other peoples suffering is fine. That is the very definition of elitism.

    No these people were not force fed that garbage, but they were most definitely exploited. As far as evidence for this food being fit for consumption goes, I think all you need to do is look at the health and weight of lower income families in the United States to find all the data you need. Let alone the unbelievable damage that the meat industry causes to the environment. Don’t get me started on that. We’d all do better to eat less hamburgers if we expect to last longer on this planet.

    Calling someone you don’t even know elitist and then quoting some ad geek bullshit to prove it. I call that irony, not elitism.

    Give me a break and keep your disgusting hamburgers. You eat them everyday and see how you feel. If we don’t start using some common sense and practicing some basic ethics in this world then we might as well turn it over to the cockroaches because we don’t deserve it. Just because CP+B needs money doesn’t excuse spreading our despicable habits to people that most certainly don’t need any exposure to them. It’s shameful. Period.

  17. Vincent Comparetto Says:

    Well said. This blogosphere is such a fascinating thing. People go to your site engage in a comment based debate and seem angered that you are critiquing some ad objectively. I am so confused at what they expect to see on your site or why they only justify their own opinions. I wonder if a lot of people in our field just passively embrace everything. I enjoy this kind of communication and I think it’s important so keep up the good work.

  18. Jamie Says:

    Apprently I hit a nerve… regardless, don’t take constructive critiscm of your rant and make it personal. Alan Wolk has some interesting things to say. He’s been in the industry for a while, is very successful and has some pretty good insight. Rather than be ignorant of any dissenting opinion, why not at least consider it? Instead you had a childish tantrum and threw the word bullshit around. Why make this mean? I respect your work, and I would like to keep this an adult discussion, if we can.
    As for fast food, anything in excess is unhealthy. Blaming fast food for diabetes is like the parent getting made at the TV for showing his kids something he doesn’t like, when he should be regulating what his kids watch. It’s up to each individual to regulate their intake, of everything in our environment. Let’s be responsible for ourselves.
    Lastly do you really believe these are poor, naive villagers being exploited? One of the commenters on this post even noted that saying Chang Mai is a village ” is like saying “the remote village of Los Angeles.” I have no doubt these people have been aware of fast food for a long time. The only stipulations made by the campaign were that these people (1.) were not familiar with the advertising of McDonald’s and Burger King, and (2.) that they’ve never eaten a hamburger. No one is “spreading dispicable habits” here. I think these people would be insulted that you think of them as naive villagers who can’t make smart decisions for themselves. You should give them a little credit.

  19. Hello Says:

    I don’t know about you but reading all this bickering sure has made me hungry. I think i’ll pick up a Whooper. Then I can come back and make a cool poster about it.

  20. Christopher Says:

    You kind of hit a nerve. I just think throwing the word elitist around to describe someone who doesn’t like fast food in defense of one of the wealthiest advertising agencies on the planet is kind of ridiculous. I was already familiar with the Nascar blindness explanation.

    Like I said I grew up with people who are Nascar fans. I used to live close the the Nascar track outside of Miami. I don’t suffer from Nascar blindness. I wasn’t being mean either, I was just being passionate. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. We can be adults and say things like bullshit. I swear a lot. That came from my ‘Nascar’ upbringing. Thank you for respecting my work. I appreciate that you do, but this is my blog, I pay for it and I work hard as all hell to keep filling it with information that inspires people, and if I want to rant on it then I am going to go for it. Sorry if that offends you.

    As for fast food and diabetes, the people my wife sees at the clinic she works at don’t know any better. My wife has to help educate them as to the link between the two. Many of them are poor immigrants without access to either healthcare or education about nutrition. They are adults and fast food is what they can afford to eat. The reason they don’t know any better is because no one has told them that eating like that all of the time can have serious side effects on their health. It’s not their fault and to fault them for eating what they can afford in between kids and multiple jobs is again, the very definition of elitism.

    I never said the villagers were poor or naive. I am sure they have adapted their culture and lifestyles to their situation appropriately. I am sure it was the same when we moved into the rain forest and started cutting it down around the tribes that had lived their for centuries.

    And yes, I think going in there and introducing something that they could live without is exploitive, especially when it is done for the sake of advertising and increasing the profit margins of a company like Burger King a quarter of a percentage point. To do that for the benefit of Burger King’s profit, again, is elitist. Especially when it is done without consideration for the people who are a part of the experiment.

    I am sure the ‘villagers’ or people in a big city in Thailand can make healthy decisions all on their own, but greedy American imperialists probably aren’t interested in sticking around to teach them that eating whoppers is terrible for you. And it is.

    Again, all I am saying is there is a line in the sand out there where you start to cross ethical boundaries and I think this campaign crossed one.

  21. Jamie Says:

    Point taken. I apologize for calling you an elitist. Anyway I would argue that there are other cheap food options out there besides fast food, and to blame fast food, is wrong in my opinion. But, thanks to your wife for helping the people who aren’t able or smart enough to help themselves.

    As for the people they used in the commerical, I think if these people have resisted fast food culture for this long, they will probably continue to resist it. I think the campaign was pretty harmless, the BKs they got the food from were only 15 minutes away.

    Now, the question of should there be BKs over there, that is another debate.

  22. Hamburgular Says:

    Genius!!

  23. Christopher Says:

    Damn, the Hamburgular just trumped us all with his awesome sarcasm. Burn.

  24. nick Says:

    grease burn?

  25. Hamburgular Says:

    Dirty Burger burn. Have you ever placed a hot Whopper patty to your forehead before? That is the burn I’m talking about.

  26. It's advertising Says:

    Hi long time reader, first time writer. ( HA always wanted to say that, sorry)

    My thoughts.

    Advertising should betaking at face value, nothing more. It’s the idea / message behind it which is: “The majority of people that have never had McDonald’s or Burger King before would most likely choose the BK burger.”

    Did they get the message across successfully? yes
    Did they communicate it in a creative way? yes
    If you hated fast food before this ad would it change your mind? no
    Are we going to see any law suits from the aboriginals for exploiting them? no

    When did we all decided that advertising to be humane and socially responsible?(wheres the fun in that?) It’s advertising, it’s selling a product – and to Joe Schmo (uneducated American who is probably over weight and eats fast food) this would be his cultural reason for choosing BK over Mc – “Well hey, if dem der native folk choose Bk over Mc den BK must be better….”

    Bottom line is its advertising – I personally don’t eat fast food and this ad won’t make me start but its got people talking. As for the people that are pissed or unsettled by this ad, who gives a shit, they most likely don’t eat BK or MC anyways.

    It’s getting a reaction, not all positive but still a reaction. And for a company like BK publicity is publicity.

    Just my two cents, great blog btw.

  27. Chris Says:

    Yeah, ironically I do agree. It is successful as advertising for sure. But at the same time, I do still think we have to push to be more ethical. I just think we all are starting to slowly come around to the unsustainable nature of our system and lifestyles and sooner or later we have to choose what side of that line we want to be on. I know that is total idealism and between that and reality there is definitely a compromise but I just think that people are going to start pushing back in the opposite direction against campaigns like this that have an exploitive undertone.

    I know I am crazy. Save the world right? Ah well.

  28. smithdidit Says:

    It’s a taste test but who cares about the winner in this contest. The Whopper Virgins idea is the most authentic piece of advertising I’ve seen in awhile and by far the most interesting idea ever to come out of burger culture.  

    There’s been a lot of negative comments about this campaign ranging from “Those poor people. I bet their stomachs exploded soon after eating those things and woke up the next day craving hamburgers. Thumbs down for CP+B.”  to “Why don’t they bring along a little smallpox while they’re at it…”

    This campaign isn’t about taking advantage of third world cultures or some bizarre global expansion strategy. It’s not even about taste! It’s about 1 thing: Making Burger King relevant again by getting people talking about it. In this they have succeeded based on all of the noise in the media about it. 

    But for me, the real genius of this is how it introduces the idea of discovery and understanding through authentic cultural exchange. Not only did BK take our culture to other parts of the world, they are allowing us peak into cultures many of us aren’t familiar with even though it’s just a commercial. American society is so preoccupied with itself that we’re oblivious to just about every other culture on the planet. We often believe that everyone is just like us. And why not? We’re the greatest aren’t we?

    For better or worse this piece forces us to look at ourselves and take stock in what kind of culture we’ve created (or forced onto other parts of the world). It forces us to think about how other people may view our culture and just how foreign we can appear in a different context. These individuals should look curious and confused just like we would be if we were eating seal meat for the first time. I don’t think it’s meant to exploit them, rather to hold up a different mirror to our culture. But the underlying point is we need to be aware and open others so that we can have a better understanding of our neighbors whether they live next door or live on another continent. It’s everything Obama’s been saying! 

    Part of this “exchange idea” comes through during the Thailand scene when they show the Americans dining on the other cultures food. They even give you a nice close up of the dish that would typically be reserved for the “product as hero” sequence of a typical commercial. Everybody is sharing and it’s a two way street. I especially like the last interview and the gentleman revealing he “likes seal meat better.” It’s a great ending and more importantly it’s real. 

    So thumbs up to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for letting us have it our way and showing us that other folks may like something different. 

  29. EL Gordo Says:

    “Those Poor people”???

    “And now this. Polluting the planet to get their stupid creatives and film crew all around the world for this incredibly stupid ad to prove how much better the whopper vs the big mac tastes. Yay! Not to speak of the underlying corporate imperialism and racism.”

    The comments are incredibly racist. The ad is not in any way racist. Its boring and silly, but racist?. Do you seriously think that these people are so fragile they cant handle a hamburger?
    That is racism. its not racist to put indigenous people in an ad. not one bit, unless you make fun of them which Burger King clearly did not. This reminds me of an ad I made for Kelloggs a while back where one of the kids in the ad was Asian. We had people complaining about the ad being racist due to there being an Asian kid in the ad. Thats racist if anything.

    These comments are the most elitist and pathetic I’ve read in a long time.

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