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Char Broiled Burger

Burger King has just released a new line of ads, in which they search the globe to find a “Whopper virgin.” In other words they are looking for people who have never tried Burger King’s specialty hamburger, something I can easily say most Americans have had once or twice in their lifetime. Along with that, their goal is to show that people like the Whopper better that McDonald’s version, the BigMac, on taste alone. They find people who have never tasted either, and are then blind to the Brand name of each of the Burgers. These people have never experienced all of the Advertizing that might otherwise sway their opinion on which burger is better. They are essentially taking a page from the “Pepsi Challenge” taste test and adding a new twist that includes a little touch of cross culture empathy.

All I have to say is what heck? Burger king is spending billions of dollars searching the globe for someone in rural parts of the world, who has truly been lucky enough to not have been exposed to this American phenomenon, and seeing what they think? According to SHARYN ALFONSI, JIM BUNN and IMAEYEN IBANGA from ABC news, the commercial fails to show the truth behind the places that they visited. Apparently the places where Burger King finds its infamous “Whopper Virgins,” are so poverty stricken that hunger exists in some of the very areas that they decided to film. So my question is what are we doing as a society spending all this money visiting these hunger filled parts of the world just to get a good laugh. Couldn’t that money be used to do something slightly more productive? Like help the very people who are going hungry instead of just laughing at their unfamiliarity towards a hamburger. According to the World Bank, there are over 500 million people around the globe living in absolute poverty, and these are the very people that Burger King decides to film. Sharon Akabas from the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University who said, “It’s outrageous. What’s next? Are we going to start taking guns out to some of these remote places and ask them which one they like better?”

You might ask what Burger King thinks of people’s unhappy response to the locations that the ad campaign was filmed in. According to ABC news, they really don’t see a problem with it. They don’t really have anything to be worried about, because since the ad began to air Burger King has seen a 20 percent sales boost. Apparently the current recession that this company is facing, is in no way going to impact our extreme love and addiction to fast food.

Along with the moral problem of spending this money frivolously, all I can think of is the terrible effects of fast food like the Whopper. It can pretty much be summed up in one word that us as Americans, are just as familiar with as the Whopper, obesity. That’s right, the Department of Health estimates that over 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese. We can happily thank obesity for a wide range of diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Good job America, we are officially the fattest country in the world, yet we are the ones with the access to the best health care in the world, and the best resources to battle obesity. Yet we are the inventors of fast food, and that right there is our big problem. So I have to think, what in the world are we brining this food to these people who are doing just fine without all the effects of fast food. In addition to that, their usual diets are not used to our fat filled foods, and this could also have bad effects. Well Burger King is once again the culprit, and I can bet I can tell you their main motive, it’s that 20 percent increase in sales that they are looking at.

So where do we as Americans draw the line? We are spending billions to bring people fatty foods who are living in areas with little food at all, and introducing them to an American phenomenon that has done us more harm than it has good. On top of everything we are doing this in a manner that is supposed to be humorous, I find it appalling. I guess that selling a couple more hamburgers is most important to our society. That 20 percent profit increase is truly the bottom line in this scenario.
Sources:
http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm
http://www.miamiherald.com/business/international/story/801768.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=6423256&page=1
http://thefutureofads.com/2008/12/05/controversy-makes-whopper-virgins-a-success-for-burger-king/

Comments

Advertising is a very big market in the United States and with what Burger King has done to their method of advertising shows that they are willing to do anything to have people buy their products. I agree with where you are standing with your positional paper. This multi-millionaire corporation goes to rural area of a country in which to find villagers who have never eaten a whopper, also known as a “Whopper Virgin.” The result of the there choice will observed. The areas in the country where Burger King decided to find there taste testers are areas in which poverty and hunger is a daily problem. They even create a humor about it by making it a documentary.
Also with what you talking is obesity in America, when America is the fattest country in the world with 65% of Americans either being overweight or obese, Burger King still spends their money to prove to the already over weighted Americans that even “Whopper Virgins” love it too. With what Burger King is doing is wrong but they don’t care about the hunger in those country, they don’t care about how fat Americans are, and they don’t care about the diseases and illness that has been brought upon to Americans due to fast food, what they care for is the increase in sales in this tough economy. They want to see profit, that is why they spent millions of dollars to make this documentary of “Whopper Virgins” and not on helping poverty or fat America.

I completely and totally agree with your take on this article. As if Burger King and McDonalds are not bad enough for full-bellied Americans, let’s introduce it to the poverty stricken areas where the franchise is trying to find its “Whopper virgin.” As you and other articles have stated, “Burger King is taking its fat-laden fast-food to people who are not used to it in their diets… who probably do not care too much” (Pinsker). They do not care, so why bother them? Also, what about the people in these poverty stricken areas that are not used in Burger King’s little experiment? All poor taste and nutritional value aside, do the non-guinea pigs have to watch as their friends get to eat when they have not seen a scrap of food in days? Spending billions on this, like you said, is appalling.

Another thing that is appalling is how exploited this campaign makes its subjects. Rather than just taking the burger to their land, having them sample it and pick their favorite, BK has them “dress in their fanciest traditional outfits, troops [them] into a bland room and hands [them] two burgers…[of which they are] unsure how to eat” (Linn). It is completely degrading and unprofessional to make mockery of such people, especially because they do not know any better.

My favorite line in your position is “It’s outrageous. What’s next? Are we going to start taking guns out to some of these remote places and ask them which one they like better?” (Akabas) and it is a good honest question. If Burger King is able to spend billions exploiting “Whopper virgins,” filling their systems with unhealthy food, why not exploit “gun virgins” too? Oh wait, that one might be too wrong.

I agree with your position towards this article. It seems as though all America cares about is advertising there food and doing this increases the risk of obesity and heart disease of Americans. I think it's sad and unprofessional for burger king to go to countries where poverty rates are high and the people barely have enough food to survive. Burger King shouldn't take there advertisement this far that they disrespect people in another country and don't see anything wrong with it.
Mcdonalds and Burger King are always going to compete to have the better taking food in any ways possible. I like and agree with you when you said "We are spending billions to bring people fatty foods who are living in areas with little food at all, and introducing them to an American phenomenon that has done us more harm than it has good." I don't think that Burger King is that creative if this is the only way that they can spend a whole bunch of money that could of went to something more important. They should think hard about there advertising decisions before they go through with them.

I whole heartedly agree with several points made in the above article. Like most people, I find the idea of a marketing ploy which exploits the hunger of impoverished world citizens quit appalling and tasteless. I also think it’s pretty sad that every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger, yet in America, we’re killing yourselves with fat. I would like to argue, however, that we cannot solely blame fast food giants like Burger King for our problems, or the world’s. You say that fast food is our big problem, and yes, I think it is a big problem, but does Burger King make people eat there? Does Burger King make someone sit on their butt all day long? Is it Burger King’s fault that I drink far too much soda and only use my gym membership for tanning? What I’m getting at here is that we all make our own decisions. Yes, advertisement is omnipresent, and as hard as it may be to resist a Triple Whopper with Cheese when confronted with commercial after commercial, neither Burger King, McDonald’s, nor Wendy’s should be used as a total scapegoat for our obesity epidemic. The fast food giants only got so enormous because they gave people what they wanted. If you want to blame huge companies, why don’t we criticize some automakers? Why don’t we criticize bakers? Soda companies? Or how about television? All of these things can surely be contributing to our obesity epidemic, yet they’re all made and controlled by us. None of them need to control how we take care of ourselves.

I agree with you that Burger King, and fast food in general, is “an American phenomena which has done us more harm than it has good”, however it is a phenomena that has been created by us, for us.
On a completely separate note, I’m curious if anyone else watched the final Whopper Virgin “documentary”. What I find interesting is that it seems really tastefully done to me. During the several minutes, I actually forgot I was essentially watching a very glorified commercial. I think it’s interesting that they mention the people wanted to try new food, and experience a different culture. The researchers even brought a BK broiler and cooked Whoppers for the people of the villages, who in turn, shared their own food with them. Of course, with film editing, they could have made the entire thing seem much more pseudo-humanitarian, but at the same time, watching the final documentary, I found it a lot less easy to get outright offended by the whole Whopper Virgin campaign.

*Work Sited*
http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/wardx278/positions/2009/02/char_broiled_burger.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apte_wCDr9Q

This position statement addresses a very important aspect of society. Are you un-cool if you have never had a cheeseburger? Does that automatically make a pariah of society? I often wish I had never discovered the wonderful grease pit of fast food culture. I wish I thought that Ronald McDonald was just the full name of the famous farmer Ol’ McDonald. Every step of childhood has a different set of things that you need to know or learn or else you are deemed a lame person. In tenth grade I remember being afraid to ask my friends how to use the choke on the marijuana pipe and why beer tasted so bad but they continued to drink it? As I sit as a freshman college student I can honestly tell you that I wish I didn’t know half of the street knowledge that I possessed. Instead of laughing at these impoverished people that have never tasted this fat-tastic burger, I am jealous of them.

You make a lot of valid points here, and I agree that there are a number of moral issues with this ad campaign (many of your arguments are reasons why I would never want to work in advertising). However, it seems to me that you're forgetting who is spending the money in this situation. Burger King has an advertising budget as a result of customers buying its food. They can't be expected to spend this money on distributing free nutritious food to the third world. Simply put, that is the job of humanitarian groups, and oftentimes, of governments.

As long as Burger King's actions in these countries don't harm the people their- as the polluting factories, terrible working conditions, and oppressive management of many apparel manufacturers do today- then they have the right to spend their money to advertise their product and distribute it to new markets. The Burger King corporation exists to sell fast food, and with these ads it is doing just that. We cannot expect them to be charitable with their money if there's no direct incentive for them- just as I wouldn't expect you to give all of your disposable income to charity.

In my opinion, it really comes down to the fact that Burger King is just doing what corporations do, and it's not violating the rights of others in the process. When it comes to harmful business practices, companies like Nike, Puma, Russel, Coca-Cola, logging companies, mining operations, and countless other commercial entities are miles ahead of Burger King. I personally believe that we need much stricter regulation on our corporations to prevent the exploitation of workers and foreign (often under-protected) ecosystems). But the “Whopper Virgins” ad campaign does not exploit either of these to any significant extent.

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