While debating the focus of this week's column, Burger King released a new commercial, and served me my topic on a silver platter.
The latest Burger King television advertisement features dancing girls in red shorts (quite like the “hot-pants” of the 70s) suggestively shaking their backsides to a rap song, “I like square butts.” When I first viewed the spot, I was confused, distracted by the rectangular boxes stuffed inside the back of the dancers' pants. It didn't become clear that Burger King was pushing another Sponge Bob Square Pants kiddie meal until I saw the yellow cartoon character appear on the screen. The commercial ends with Sir Mix-a-lot, a well known rapper, declaring “booty is booty.”
WHAT? BK's ad execs must have had a long, liquid lunch before they drew that storyboard. What's wrong with Burger King? Is Burger King deliberately attempting to force preschoolers into early adolescence? Why are they sending the message to children that women are synonymous with “booty?” Doesn't Burger King realize that some parents, myself included, find their recent campaign offensive, and downright ridiculous?
First of all, the grinning king character with the huge plastic head needs to retire. That guy, who looks as though he has visited Doctor 90210 too many times, is just plain creepy. If a real person grinned at my kid that way, I'd grab my child and run in the opposite direction. The king's ability to do a gymnastic split while balancing that enormous, plastic head upon his shoulders is the only impressive thing in BK's latest commercial. The rest is trash.
Since when does Burger King need to utilize sex to sell kiddie meals? And don't tell me the commercial isn't based on sex; the focus on “booty” is a give-away. While I'm thinking of it, a slap on the wrist to Nickelodeon and Sponge Bob, who is supposedly all about innocent fun. Sponge Bob ought to take a long walk off a short pier for participating in this tasteless ad. Thanks to BK's misguided advertising campaign, it won't be long before preschoolers are shaking their behinds, reciting a new mantra: “booty is booty.” Please don't tell me the little ones don't understand what they are saying. The very fact that most of them do understand is exactly why it isn't cute. What's next? Little girls' Halloween costumes of tight, red shorts, with rectangular boxes glued to their behinds?
Perhaps Burger King should reassess their advertising strategies. Recently, in deference to the protests of the Mexican Ambassador to Spain, BK pulled their Texas Whopper ad, which featured a small Mexican man, and the offensive slogan “the Texas Whopper, the taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican.” The company issued a statement saying, "Burger King Corporation has made the decision to revise the Texas Whopper advertising creative out of respect for the Mexican culture and its people." Out of respect for children, and especially women, BK should pull its “I like square butts” creative as well.
Note to Burger King: your Sponge Bob “booty” campaign missed its mark (unless, of course, you intended to stir attention-getting controversy). Children may find your latest strategy amusing, but your target audience that controls the purse strings finds it shameful.
Note to Sponge Bob Square Pants: BK made a mistake, dear. They put rectangles in the dancers' shorts – not squares. If you're going to be offensive, at least be accurate.