Industry News | December 5, 2008

Bad Taste for Whopper, Burger King

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A series of newly released Burger King ads has bloggers fired up. The burger chain’s “Whopper Virgins” campaign features citizens of remote villages in Greenland, Romania, and Thailand participating in taste tests that put the BK menu staple up against its arch rival, the Big Mac.

In what the brand is calling the world’s “purest taste test,” judges who have never eaten a burger before are asked to choose which of the two iconic meals they prefer. The chain has released multiple 15-second teaser ads that drive viewers to the Web site whoppervirgins.com.

The campaign quickly caught the attention and peaked the anger of many bloggers (and readers), including seriouseats.com, walletpop.com, and organgrinder, hosted by the UK newspaper The Gaurdian. Critics claim the ads are insensitive to poverty and famine issues, but the chain says it handled the project in good taste.

“During the entire process, Burger King Corp. worked closely with a third-party independent research firm, which used its expertise and knowledge of the specific communities and people involved to determine parameters of this visit,” the company said in an official response to the backlash. The statement went on to outline specific donations BK made to the three communities affected.

The company has no plans to pull the campaign and plans to debut the results of the taste tests at a later date.

--Blair Chancey