Will ‘Booty’ Block Burger King’s Business?

Meat isn’t the only thing being flame-broiled at Burger King this week. Their public relations team is dealing with their own whopper—public outrage over not one, but two ads.

Intended for adult audiences, their most recent ad pairs Sir Mix-A-Lot with Sir Sponge Bob (of Square Pants fame) in promotion of their Kids’ Meal through a revamped version of the one-hit-wonder, ‘Baby Got Back.’ As Rolling Stone soundly suggests, “a video once deemed too sexual for primetime TV is now being used to sell hamburgers to children.”

Meanwhile, their global “Texican” ad proved a full-blown assault on taste. Reuters reports they’ve pulled an “advertisement featuring a squat Mexican draped in his country’s flag next to a tall American cowboy and said it would change the campaign.”

Burger King’s advertising recipe has long relied on more than a cup of controversy, it’s the base ingredient. But, have we entered an era where advertising doesn’t simply equal attention? Provoking just to poke was once a sound advertising strategy. But in an era where a multi-million dollar campaign can crumble under the powerful consumer pressure of Twitter, YouTube, or any of the growing number of consumer mouthpieces, is inspiring ire still the correct choice for a campaign?



7 thoughts on “Will ‘Booty’ Block Burger King’s Business?

  1. For starters, I’ve seen the SpongeBob/Sir-Mix-A-Lot ad, and I thought it was genius. True these spots are sparking controversy, and people are “upset,” over them – but is anyone actually holding themselves back from buying a burger and a shake over it? Doubtful. Besides, my guess is that the people who are up in arms aren’t the ones that BK is talking to anyways. And as long as the BK Lounge name turns up in conversation, I’m pretty sure it’s going to spark someone’s craving.

  2. Wrong on several points, Catie.
    1. It is not genius to use sex to sell to kids, and in the business world, it is far from genius to engage in advertising that gets you boycotted.

    2. Is anyone actually holding themselves back from buying a burger and shake over it? You better believe it, I am one of them. And there is a little organization called the AFA that has one or two people boycotting them as well.

    3. “my guess is that the people who are up in arms aren’t the ones that BK is talking to anyways.” On the contrary, they are talking to everyone with a television, and some of us do not like what they are saying. And we are responding by taking our business elsewhere.

  3. Thank goodness there is outrage. I thought that was one of the dumbest marketing mistakes I have ever seen. What the heck would prompt a parent to go out and get a kids meal after seeing that? I think if anything it has done the opposite. This ad really just shows the consumer that the marketing department for Burger King has no talent.

  4. Time to play catch-up!

    Rocky – No, it didn’t make me chomp a burger, but it did make me want to! The real reason I didn’t is the nutritional value (or lack thereof) which unfortunately cannot be changed by any booty shaking commercial.

    Richard – Thanks for the response and I’m glad to have sparked some conversation.

    I absolutely agree with you that companies should not use sex to sell to kids – however, I don’t think this commercial was acutally aimed at children at all. In fact, I don’t think there are any kids out there who would recognize Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back,’ which is the premise of the ad. The song rings bells for a much older demographic: the twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings that are likely to have children today. I think the intent was to grab their attention with the familiar song and the shaking, and then to let them know that BK offers something for them AND their kids.

    Interesting to hear about your BK boycott as well, but how often were you eating there before? Is the ad actually changing your habits? My impression is that BK regulars are going unaffected, but I’d love to hear more…

  5. Burger King’s (and others) marketing and commercials have become more risky over time. I’ve always wondered how they dodge sexual harassment lawsuits. If an internal issue flares, all that person would have to do is point out how the company aligns with and supports this kind of behavior. Time will tell if this proves true.

    Take a look at these Weird and Dumb Lawsuits

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