Rate the Ad: Burger King: Whopper Virgins

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Last week,we offered up suicide-themed Pepsi Max ads from BBDO, Dusseldorf that depict a lonely blue cartoon calorie offing himself in varied and graphic ways. Thanks to the Internet, the campaign offended many, so Pepsi pulled the ads and made personal apologies. Adding their voices to the din, Rate the Adsters represented every case for and against this unusual approach to selling low-cal soda.

Some reflected the sentiment that these ads treated suicide in a flippant and thus inappapropriate manner. Commenter "Marshmallow" said, "Suicide is about as funny as the Holocaust. Or kids with cancer....That's why the VW suicide spot was yanked last year. There's a difference between pushing creative boundaries and just pushing buttons. Those who lack authentic creativity and/or class will never understand this. Cool illustration style, though."

One non-adlander argued that all this attention means the campaign succeeded because it got people thinking about the brand. Commenter "itchycods" said, "I am not employed in the advertising world, and I have not been educated in advertising per se, but I have been subjected to it all my life. These reactions that people are having to this set of ads is exactly what advertising is supposed to do, right? Evoke strong emotions (good or bad) in people to tie the product into their memory. Because they make you FEEL, and not just think is exactly the point. I have seen things in my life that disturbed me to the point that some even made me physically ill, but because of euphoric recall, I don't still get ill, I just remember the subject. Seems like BBDO was earning their money."

Another Adster doesn't have a problem with the content if it's in context. Viewer "oshbr" said, "I think it's an interesting idea, and executed well. If it were being run in Rolling Stone, or Wired I think the audience would find the creativity and humor. I enjoy political humor, and feel if we can't laugh at ourselves as humans, then we're doing it wrong. Pushing the envelope? Too edgy? Just depends on the environment in which it's viewed. Are we to avoid our humanity, sexuality, politics, race, etc. or do we embrace it?"

This week, we want to provide more space to discuss the recent Whopper-mentary from Crispin and Burger King. "Whopper Virgins" takes the brand's marquee burger and (a specially designed mobile Burger King broiler) to remote locations where the natives have lived undisturbed by American advertising or chain fast food. Visiting the Hmong people in Thailand, Inuits in Greenland and villagers in Romania, the crew conducted taste tests between the Whopper and its arch-nemesis, the Big Mac, with people who had never before eaten a burger. In addition to the test results--the Whopper looks like the winner, obviously--there's also a bit of cultural exchange and the pleasure of watching people figure out how to eat the foreign sandwich. Well, what do you think? Interesting approach? Exploitation of non-Westernized cultures? Is this advertising stunt spreading the impure seed? Or, is it documenting a fascinating cultural moment? Share your thoughts, below.
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