|This screen grab was taken in the 'Gallery' section of Burger King's CoqRoq.com site yesterday. Today, the 'Groupies Love the Coq' caption was removed. The company denies it made the changes because of outside complaints. The CoqRoq.com site is linked to Burger King's main Web site and is promoted in a new Burger King TV commercial. Click to see full-size image.
Play the new 15-second Burger King CoqRoq TV commercial.
CoqRoq.com, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, the agency that created Burger King's Subservient Chicken site, is designed to look like the kind of crudely outrageous Web site created by a rock band.
The Web site's double entendre name, along with the lyrics, demeanor and the sophomoric presentation of the fictitious heavy metal group, projects the illusion of something designed to offend the sensibilities of mainstream adult America.
Among other things, CoqRoq.com, which is linked directly to the main Burger King Web site, includes photo galleries with Polaroid-style shots of young girls with the handwritten captions "Groupies love the Coq" and “groupies love Coq." Since the site went live yesterday, those captions and others have been erased from the online materials. AdAge.com took screen shots of those removed materials yesterday afternoon.
“Nothing on the site has changed because of any reaction to the site,” said Edna Johnson, senior vice president for global communications for Burger King Corp., which is owned by private equity firm Texas Pacific Group. Mrs. Johnson said photo cutlines were written and then assigned randomly by computer software that as since been disabled. She said malfunctions in the Flash and XML programming were responsible for putting the "Groupies love the Coq" on the photos of the young women.
Ms. Johnson said neither the marketer nor its agency, Crispin Porter, had been contacted by any groups. “We haven’t had any complaints. The site launched slightly more than 24 hours ago and the changes are typical of a new Web site that is being tweaked.” She added that a misspelling of Burger King had also been fixed.
But even industry insiders were surprised by the gaffe of the CoqRoq site, with some noting that the bar, first raised first by Burger King’s subservient chicken and later upped by the Paris Hilton erotic carwashing spot for CKE Restaurants’ Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has pushed the limits of what fast-food marketers will do for attention.
“There’s a fine line between getting the attention of the core target and risking offending the masses,” said Chris Carroll, senior vice president and director of marketing for Subway’s Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.
|The lead singer of Burger King's ficticious rock band CoqRoq is named Fowl Mouth.
Ralph Norman Haber, partner, Human Factors Consultants, an expert on subliminal perception and subliminal advertising, said there’s nothing subliminal in the site or its advertising and that both males and females appear to be targeted equally.
"As far as I could see both sides of each one of these comes in for being the target,” he said. “Everybody is picked on and it’s kind of fair game. I think it’s probably an effective ad. From my point of view I thought it was very creative.”
However, outsiders are asking how a corporation of Burger King's stature could have approved the use of such a concept.
'Offensive in general to families'
“Just the name Coq Roq in general is offensive to families,” said Aliza Pilar Sherman, an authority and author on women and the Internet and founder of cybergrrl. “I can’t imagine if parents of a smaller child saw this. They’d say they don’t want their child exposed to this. Where do we as responsible individuals draw the line? Of course there’s freedom of speech but does that mean Burger King should be perpetuating stereotypes, negative attitudes and demeaning behavior to the market.”
“Burger King is perpetuating a crude type of stereotype,” agreed Dr. Martha Allen, director of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. “They’re serving junk stereotypes degrading and harmful to women.”
The fact they adjusted the site indicates "they’re crossing the line and they know it in some sense,” said Pat McGann, director of outreach for Men Can Stop Rape, a group that works with young men to foster healthy relationships with women. He called the entire site an example of material that confuses men about what it means to be a man.
Sexualizing fast food
“What kind of messages does this site send out, especially when it’s backed by a huge corporation?” he asked. “Ultimately, what it’s doing is sexualizing fast food."