Burger King, Crispin's Latest Stunt: 'Whopper Virgins'

But Taste-Test Campaign Is Causing Some to Freak Out Over Use of 'Impoverished' People

By Published on . 12

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Talk about a taste test: Burger King is literally trekking all over the globe to convince consumers its Whopper sandwich tops McDonald's Big Mac with its new "Whopper Virgins" campaign.

The fast feeder has created a set of new of 15-second teaser spots driving people to a website, Whoppervirgins.com, in its latest zany marketing ploy hatched by Burger King's agency of record, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the MDC Partners creative shop credited with campaigns like "Whopper Freakout" and "Subservient Chicken" for Burger King.
A series of ads directs the public to a 'Whopper Virgins' website, where web surfers can watch reactions to American fast food.
A series of ads directs the public to a 'Whopper Virgins' website, where web surfers can watch reactions to American fast food.

"To find out about America's favorite burger, we had to leave America," proclaims the site, which this weekend will premiere a documentary depicting the world's "Whopper Virgins," who apparently include Thai villagers and Transylvanian farmers, taking their first-ever bite of burger.

Exotic American delicacy
Burger King calls it the world's "purest taste test" as the judges are folks who have never tasted a Whopper or Big Mac and don't even have a word for burger in their respective languages.

Stacy Peralta, director of award-winning movies like the skateboarding flick "Dogtown and Z-Boys" and the surfing documentary "Riding Giants," has been credited with the making of "Whopper Virgins." The film promises National Geographic-like imagery from remote corners of the globe to which Mr. Peralta's team fanned out via dog sleds and helicopters.

What remains to be seen is how stomachs not accustomed to American fast food will react: Will the documentary show people getting indigestion or asking for more? (Either way, it's a safe assumption that Burger King's flame-broiled Whopper sandwich comes out on top in the taste test.)

In poor taste?
The campaign immediately sparked a backlash in the blogosphere and beyond, with critics claiming Burger King is exploiting poverty-stricken regions for marketing. "I don't think indigenous people should be used in that way to amuse a bored public that wants a sensation at any price," a commenter wrote on Gothamist.com.

"I just dislike the idea of going to some remote place and feeding indigenous tribes or impoverished people burgers that are full of fat, trans-fat and calories," another commented on the blog Walletpop. "While it would be nice to help those around the world who are starving, passing them heart attacks in a bun is not the way to do it!"

Meanwhile, the marketer and its agency seem to be staying mum for now; representatives for Burger King and Crispin both declined to comment.
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