Whopper Leave-out? Bogusky to Write Dieting Tome

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What if, in the throes of Marlboro Man success, Leo Burnett decided to write a book about the dangers of smoking? Or if after penning "The ultimate driving machine" line, Martin Puris released a book about how we should all drive less and ride our bikes instead?

In January 2009, Alex Bogusky--the man whose agency made Burger King a pop culture icon and is attempting to carve out a similar path for pizza giant Dominos--will be debuting a new book, The 9-Inch Diet. The volume claims to be "not just another diet book" and a look at "the twisted conspiracy that's making our country fat." The book's marketing says it will focus on what many call "proportion distortion," how our plates and average serving sizes have increased over the past few decades to secretly forge a nation of fatties. This idea, and the motivation to stop the dinnerware-expanding insanity, seems to stand in sharp contrast to the agenda pushed by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, on behalf of some of its clients.

Published by Brooklyn's PowerHouse Books and written "with a little help from" Crispin's chairman Chuck Porter, the book's marketing describes it as belonging in the Diet/Self-Help/Fat American Studies sections, the gulch between titles like Fast Food Nation and The Portion Teller: Smartsize Your Way to Permanent Weight Loss.

"With years of experience manipulating the masses, two of the best tricksters in the industry explain how you as a consumer are being duped, and how you are actually a part of the conspiracy to make you fat."
The book's announcement is at the very front of PowerHouse's Fall/Winter 2008-2009 catalog, in an insert that appears to have been designed differently than the rest of the book. The copy carries a cavalier attitude to what Porter and Bogusky do during the day, stating "With years of experience manipulating the masses, two of the best tricksters in the industry explain how you as a consumer are being duped, and how you are actually a part of the conspiracy to make you fat." PowerHouse also published a Crispin history, Hoopla, in late 2006. The 9-Inch Diet, Hoopla and Hooplanetics appeared in a 2006 Publisher's Weekly list of Book Expo America titles. PowerHouse has also previously published a faux-dieting book the agency produced called Eating the Angus Diet by one Dr. Angus, really agency copywriter Evan Fry, for the BK Angus Steak Burger, leading some to speculate the entire The 9-Inch Diet introduction is part of a wider marketing ploy.

Both Bogusky and publisher were contacted but unavailable for comment. Calls to Burger King went unreturned.

Bogusky and CP+B helped re-invent the King in 2003, starring him in cartoons and numerous crossovers, appearing on late-night TV and even helping to move over 3 million Xbox games rated for players of all ages. The agency won three Gold Cannes Lions for "Whopper Freakout," in which customers were secretly taped while being deprived of their 39-fat-gram, 670-calorie whopper.

As of last September the agency has taken on creative responsibilities for Domino's Pizza, introducing the Gotham City pizza as a tie-in with the Dark Knight movie. With double the normal amount of pepperoni, one slice of the 12" pizza contains 290 calories and 15 grams of fat.

Not all of CP+B's work falls on the opposite side of the health coin to Bogusky's forthcoming tome. Crispin, along with Arnold Worldwide, has worked on the widely hailed Truth anti-smoking campaign for the not-for-profit American Legacy Foundation. The Truth work won CP+B no major awards this year.

So how, you may ask, does the man who won an armload of ad awards this year making brands like Domino's and Burger King famous, pen a book decrying the larding of America's collective ass? Good question.

The more cynical might see statements like "The 9-Inch Diet doesn't tell you what to eat, what not to eat, or what time of day not to eat it" as a ready-made excuse for America to keep on eating as much fast food as it wants (remember BK is open late!), just cut down on how much it eats at one time.Then again, knowing the agency's past accomplishments, perhaps it's just another elaborate ruse.

View materials from the PowerHouse catalog below.
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