Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Whopper Virgins Mirror

It's a taste test but who cares about the winner in this contest. The Whopper Virgins idea is the most authentic piece of advertising I've seen in awhile and by far the most interesting idea ever to come out of burger culture.  

There's been a lot of negative comments about this campaign ranging from "Those poor people. I bet their stomachs exploded soon after eating those things and woke up the next day craving hamburgers. Thumbs down for CP+B."  to "Why don’t they bring along a little smallpox while they’re at it…"

This campaign isn't about taking advantage of third world cultures or some bizarre global expansion strategy. It's not even about taste! It's about 1 thing: Making Burger King relevant again by getting people talking about it. In this they have succeeded based on all of the noise in the media about it. 

But for me, the real genius of this is how it introduces the idea of discovery and understanding through authentic cultural exchange. Not only did BK take our culture to other parts of the world, they are allowing us peek into cultures many of us aren't familiar with even though it's just a commercial. American society is so preoccupied with itself that we're oblivious to just about every other culture on the planet. We often believe that everyone is just like us. And why not? We're the greatest aren't we?

For better or worse this piece forces us to look at ourselves and take stock in what kind of culture we've created and/or forced onto other parts of the world. It forces us to think about how other people may view our culture and just how foreign we can appear in a different context. It forced me to think where the hell is that guy going to put that wrapper we just gave him? Will it end up in the ocean? Where have I been putting wrappers all of these years? 

These individuals should look curious and confused just like we would be if we were eating seal meat for the first time. I don't think it's designed to exploit them, rather to hold up a different mirror to our own culture. But the underlying point is we need to be aware and open others so that we can have a better understanding of our neighbors whether they live next door or live on another continent. It's everything Obama's been saying! 

Part of this "exchange idea" comes through during the Thailand scene when they show the Americans dining on the other cultures food. They even give you a nice close up of the dish that would typically be reserved for the burger "product as hero" sequence of a typical commercial. Everybody is sharing and it's a two way street. I especially like the last interview and the gentleman revealing he "likes seal meat better." It's a great ending and more importantly it's real. 

So thumbs up to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for letting us have it our way and bringing some other ways to us. 


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