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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat a Tendercrisp July 26, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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I am a simple man. I have simple needs. The most important of which is consistency. And I’m just gonna come out and say it: People over at Burger King, I just don’t get you.

Burger King, in its’ long standing status as the “other place to eat lots of trans fat and stare at underpaid high school students with more acne scars than Edward James Olmos,” needs to advertise. The gap in both its’ sales and its’ standing in modern culture between the King and the Big Mac will not be made up by standing pat and relying on the fact that you, unlike the arches, have onion rings. Super Size Me should have made your executives dance around the room wildly in spastic fits of joy. You had an opening. The champ was woozy and it was your time to strike. You needed to advertise. You needed to push the envelope. You need to come up with a consistent marketing strategy and a campaign we can get behind. And that’s where my problem lies. Consistency in your recent ads has become as present as African-American characters on Friends.

You started out well. You garnered internet buzz with your “Subservient Chicken.” It was brilliant in its’ simplicity: Lets march out a guy in a chicken suit and have him do things that viewers tell him to do. While I applaud the intricacy of the available choices, the true applause goes to the geniuses who thought to advertise fast food to the Internet. Odds are strong that the same people who would spend hours typing in commands to a guy in a chicken suit would probably be the same type of people so unconcerned with their cholesterol levels that they would rush over to a franchise and buy said sandwich. Even if it did taste like a Magic Eraser dipped in grease and seasoned with the same strange mix of dried herbs they serve along with truck stop to-go salads. Regardless, you were taking a chance, forgoing the happy dancing clowns and hip-thirty somethings eating French fries together that your competitor was shoving down our throats. Edgy does equal cool. And cool equals money.

So you kept your weird “Michel Gondry swills for fast food” thing going. You gave us the personification of the King himself. Yes, you may have frightened us by turning him into a lumbering behemoth with a Kennedy size head that always seems to materialize in the most uncomfortable of places, but the commercials were odd in a good way, like the appeal of Carrot Top or voting Independent. The commercial where the King appears several yards away then is suddenly front and center like the killer in a bad 80’s slasher flick did make me feel icky, but I still wondered just what sandwich you were peddling. And then when I figured it out, I again applauded your genius. The strange machinations of the King meant to jar the viewers into fear was to distract just what they were buying: the Ultimate Omelet Sandwich. Never before had a big time fast food restaurant so blatantly given disregard to any sort of health issue. Sure, the Hardees and the lesser known peons of the restaurant kingdom had tried to garner press by releasing mammoth monstrosities, but you were an industry leader. Surely, you have some sort of standard. But I guess by combining every single type of breakfast meat imaginable and layering it with eggs and several slices of processed cheese, you didn’t. And you sold it to us behind the permanent smile of a thin Burger King, who though a proponent of the sandwich, was still limber and healthy enough to run up and down a football field like an MVP. My subconscious thought, “Sandwich equals football prowess. Must. Clog. Arteries.”

You had it all going on, BK. You even brought the chicken back out to do motocross flips and to box, all the while having some guy (that you obviously took from my 1996 house party, where he was wooing the girls with an acoustic version of Extreme’s More Than Words) to play a folksy double entendre song called Big “Buckin” Chicken. You were keeping it odd and having your icons sell your food by playing on our subconscious. Consistency. Profits. And no dancing clowns.

Than the wheels came off the bus. And came off hard. First, you did away with the odd ethereal “men in bad costumes” theme around the time of the Super Bowl. With so many more odd places and genres to explore, you went ahead and started creating…lavish musicals?!?!? First, you hired the guy from Hootie. I know, I know, he was available and probably worked for two bags of fries and the opportunity to actual keep the gay cowboy suit you provided for him, but surely there were other frontmen from forgotten nineties bands you could have hired (I would SO buy a chicken sandwich from Sebastian Bach, or hell, even that guy from Slaughter.) You rolled out a Busby-Berkeley style musical that shows the creation of a Whopper as if it were an epic event. Something tells me the kid making my lunch isn’t doing it to the sounds of trumpets and a timpani section, but instead to a tinny radio he bought at K-Mart that cost him a whole hour’s worth of his salary. And despite what Paris Hilton did, hot women do not sell sandwiches. As good as they are to eat, we know what they are doing to our physiques, and we know that any girl we see on screen and lust after will not be ours on a steady diet of Chicken Bacon Ranch and Cheese sandwiches.

And you got that, finally, with the final commercial, your strange “take back your manhood” riot with men screaming and railing through the streets about how they will only eat “man foods.” You even cleverly twisted the words to “I Am Woman,” probably using the same guy from my house party (this time using his sense of humor to pick up the ladies). While the commercial harkened back to your old campaigns core roots (Men doing extraordinary feats of physical labor under the influence of burgers and odd, unsettling visuals), it was still a mass musical. And when men see musical, they think Broadway, Nathan Lane and that kid from junior high who watched Jem more than GI Joe, not visceral meat-eating frenzies. Lavish singing and dancing spectacles do not sell food. They can sell all the Starbucks espresso drinks they want, but keep your choreography away from my Value meal. And the visual of men roaming the streets angry is not exactly the feel good message of our times, especially when there are so many more issues they could be railing against, like war, poverty or just when we will get a good Pauly Shore movie?

Which brings us to the now. You’ve hired midgets. That’s right, midgets. And not even the crème de la crème of the midget pantheon in Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer, but the guy that was Mickey on Seinfeld. While he may be the Olivier of midgets, he still doesn’t have the midget street cred necessary to pull off an advertising campaign. Don’t get me wrong: I loves me some midgets. I have a long standing doctrine that I live by which states that “No day is a bad day when I see a midget in person.” And how could you have a bad day? They’re something that makes a good day even better. Hell, I’m gonna come out and say it, they’re like the Sprinkles of life. But how do they sell burgers? How do they keep your campaign going towards its’ once logical conclusion- a full on trippy dancing ball of gelatinous goo (voiced by Abe Vigoda) that does nothing but recite Rimbaud’s poetry yet at the end of the commercial mutters in perfect Farsi to ‘Eat at the King’? Sure that may seem weird but you were headed down a path of incomprehensivity for some time. To bring yourself back to reality and normalcy with midgets is just plain bad. Midgets as oddity is long played out, and dare I say it, un PC. You should have gone with the goo. Or at least hired a Zappa kid.

Burger King, you had a good thing going. I was with you when your consistency was something unexpected. Now you’re resorting to cheap theatrics and lame attempts at the odd. Fire your ad team. Now. And hire somebody who will continue to make every commercial, slogan and campaign as strange as possible. Push the envelope. Sell us your food by tricks and deceit- you know, the old fashioned American way. Because McDonalds is coming back. And the lure of the onion rings can only last for so long. It’s not that hard to do, and believe me, Ronald’s got that one in his pocket. And he’s waiting. He’s waiting.

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Comments»

1. sardogwill - July 27, 2006

Dwarf. Not midget. There’s a difference. Midget = offensive. Dwarf = PC. Just so you know.

You had me. The whole way through your way too funny post. Until the midgets. But then, I’m a little sensitive to that, since I up and birthed me one 😉

2. doctorolove - July 27, 2006

I apologize for any offense my post may have called…Unless you work for Burger King…Then I cannot help you….

3. Jose - July 30, 2006

I cannot agree with you more on the Burger King campaing. I marketing is whats going to get me into these fast food places Burger King won’t be in my list. I remember when the “Jack in the Box” was blown to pieces, I think I was about 17 and I hated it, I loved that little fellow with the springgy neck but suddenly the powers that be decided he was not needed anymore. Fast forward 10 or 15 years later and “Jack” comes back not as a boxy clown but as a full blown executive and interpreneur. While I love the whittiness of the “Jack in the Box” commercials I can’t steer myself to Burger King, those commercial are downright scary. The one I hate them most and it gives me the creeps is the one where the guy wakes up and the King is there right next to him. Brrrr! Thanks for a good post.

4. doctorolove - July 30, 2006

Fear and ickiness are the pillars of advertising, I suppose…I do love the fact that Jack in the Box has decided, in their recent commercial, to creep us out less by having him tool around in a leir jet…Thanks for the comment!


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