Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing


From the desk of Alex Bogusky
December 3, 2008, 10:22 pm
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bkUnder Alex Bogusky’s helm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has managed to blow new air into brands such as Burger King and Volkswagen. With the reintroduction of the mildly stalkerish and creepy King, Bogusky placed Burger King back on the fast food map of America. The success brought Burger King plenty of attention, and lifted The King to new realms fame and fan obsession. A few days ago, a new campaign graced our TV and computer screens – The Whopper Virgins.

The gist of the campaign is that Burger King has brought the classic taste test to people who “don’t have a word for burger”, remote villages in Romania, Greenland and the Golden Triangle. At first, this idea seems brilliant – who better to use for taste tests than people who haven’t tried either product? But putting this aside, Crispin is really pushing the envelope, particularly in the way it projects how Americans think about the rest of the world. A post on Adfreak, an industry blog, mentions that “it’s more embarrassing and emblematic of how ignorant Americans still seem to the rest of the world.”

I couldn’t agree more, and that’s the first thing I thought about when I saw the website and ads for the first time. I had the fortune of growing up as a TCK (Third Culture Kid), and despite being surrounded by plenty of political incorrectness, everyone knew when a line was crossed. Whopper Virgins crosses that line.

It is remarkable that these cultures have remained relatively untouched by the McDonaldization of the world, and it is quite despicable that they are being exploited for this reason. This isn’t to say that Burger King is dropping cases of Whoppers in these villages, but the idea that they would even pull the stunt for our entertainment pushes the limit.

As these people show up in the test locations dressed in their traditional attire, it feels like they are being paraded around with a similar aura as the African-Americans and little people paraded around the World Expo in Chicago over 70 years ago. Though on paper it seems like a great idea – having people who’ve never had a burger to complete a taste test – in theory it pushes cultural boundaries that are better left untouched. At least until BK or McDonalds set up shop in Greenland.

The countdown is on – in 3 days the documentary which the TV spots and sites advertise will go live. Check it out at WhopperVirgins.com 

What do you think?

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