“Teenagers are curious about sex.”
My creative partner at Euro RSCG Chicago, Blake Ebel appeared on the Today Show this morning talking about the very topic I had spent my last story discussing: sex(ism) and race(ism) in advertising.
Total coincidence. But understandable, given all the hubbub of late. The Today show isolated two spots in particular: the risque’ Spongebob Squarepants mashup for Burger King and hottie chef Padima’s burger eating orgy for Hardees.
I’d written about these and other fast food commercials that seemed to be hitting below the belt -wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Blessed with suburban good looks, it’s easy to see why Today show producers opted to interview Blake. He comports himself well. Check out his 15 seconds of fame:
Ebel on Today Show
April 16, 2009
Some fervor in Ad Land over the latest Popeye’s commercial featuring “Annie, The Chicken Queen.” The controversy is two fold. First the obvious question: Is Annie a stereotype of black women? She’s in our face, shucking and jiving, yammering about fried chicken. So, yes, Annie is a stereotype. But what makes the bit even more controversial is the idea that a bunch of white guys in Texas created the commercial. Indeed, GSD&M is taken to task on Agency Spy. Perhaps with good reason. In the comments, a frustrated African American woman makes numerous good points, and not just to white America. The article and the spot are attached:
The use of offensive stereotypes in popular culture is nothing new. But the amount of it in fast food advertising is acute. Twelve years ago Chiat Day and Taco Bell introduced a talking Chihuahua. “Yo Quiero Taco Bell!” I was so startled by this campaign I ended up satirizing it in my new novel, The Happy Soul Industry. A yapping Mexican Chihuahua? Hadn’t we been down this road before with the Frito Bandito (to say nothing of Speedy Gonzales)?
Apparently not. Yet another dubious Diablo inhabits Burger King’s recent commercial for the Texican Whopper. Here the height-challenged stereotype is a masked wrestler and he’s donning a Mexican flag for a cape. Aye Carumba. As of this writing BK’s agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky is reworking the spot to make it less offensive. The story and commercial are below.
And speaking of inappropriate behavior…Sexism reigns in recent campaigns for Hardees and Carl’s JR. In one, hottie chef, Padima makes love to a colossal stab of beef. In the other Paris Hilton tries to eat hers while having sex with a car.
What is it with fast food advertising and isms? I understand that young people and minorities eat junk food but pandering to these audiences with soft porn and stereotypes rankles. And besides aren’t Paris, Padima and Queen Annie all wrong anyway? It does seem like middle-aged white ad guys trying to be “dope” and, of course, failing.
And what to make of Burger King’s latest campaign, which mashes a bootylicious anthem and Spongebob Squarepants?! Not only is the ad sexist (joyfully so) but it’s presumably for children. Or is it? Adrants has more.
Sigh…Almost makes one nostalgic for McDonald’s fake white America. Actually, we ought to give Mickey D’s props for getting pop culture right at least once. Last year’s “How Low Can You Go?” commercial seamlessly weaved hip-hop with middle America in a musical and visual treat for, of all things, Happy Meals. My kids liked it and so did I.
I’m taking on a lot here, I know. Look at the work. Besides creating a fast food nation is the Quick Serve industry (and its advertising partners) also committing more egregious fouls?