Creative: Barbara Lippert’s Critique

Hold the Ads
Burger King lacks cohesiveness, identity in its new spots ever since advertising became part of the global entertainment economy, campaigns for major brands tend to get released to the press in videos made for TV producers. These TV types need background footage, or B-roll, as lead-ins to showing the spots.
Not only is Burger King’s latest video release chock-full of B-roll, it includes lots of background info: BK has a new bag that lets customers see their orders, plus there’s a redesigned, more-bang-for-the-buns logo.
The new logo is so Planet Hollywood electric that it puts the old, clamshell version of the buns to shame. Likewise, crew members have new uniforms, in “mustard gold, tomato red, pickle green.” Then we get to the part where staffers are shown “preparing the famous Whopper sandwiches inside the kitchens.” This tour not only gives one pause, it gives new meaning to “hold the pickle, hold the lettuce.”
Utilizing the armpit-cam, the camera focuses on a crew member who sticks her bare hands, sans gloves or tongs, into the lettuce, onions and pickles, places them atop a burger and then wraps it up. The pit-cam moves to the other side of the counter, where it pulls back to show lucky Customer X, who picks up his tray and walks to the drink station, where he burps ketchup into a little cup as ice plops in the background.
Hidden cameras on 20/20 or 60 Minutes could not have done a better job of making the experience seem as inviting as leaving a urine sample in a doctor’s office. That’s why we need advertising, people! Big, slick, expensively made spots with mouth-wateringly gorgeous food shots!
This new work from Ammirati Puris Lintas is mildly amusing but isn’t going to set the world on fire. While Burger King is smartly branding its restaurant interiors and packaging, it needs to think more cohesively about its ads.
For instance, “Truck” opens on an old-fashioned ice-cream truck painted with the Burger King logo. A manic crowd gathers around to place individualized Whopper orders. This is the worst part of the spot: The crowd looks so phony. And then we hear the voice-over (John Goodman sounds as if he’s been sedated by major Whopper ingestion) and Mayberry-like whistling music in the background.
“The Whopper can’t come to you,” says Goodman, but you can get it at Burger King outlets. So why get us as excited as dogs at the prospect of the truck? The end of the spot is funny: The plucky, earnest, boy-driver pulls down the block, where four conventional ice-cream trucks are parked, their sadistic-looking drivers waiting to get him. “Dead end, Whopper Boy,” one of the vendors tells him.
The second spot, “Whopper Craving Contest,” also courts the Pavlovian response. Perhaps it’s aimed at twentysomething chain smokers who’ve dabbled in everything to try to break the habit. We’re in Las Vegas, where two guys are having a “stare-down contest” when a Whopper is brought in. One guy grabs the sandwich and inhales it. The other guy wins because of his Whopper patch, which has a picture of a bright, friendly Whopper on it.
A third commercial, created for the African American community by UniWorld Group, uses the lame idea of a crew of “flame-broiling fathers” in the kitchen, bickering over making the burgers. (“Who knows more about backyard barbecue than your Dad?” the crew member asks the customer.) When shown, the fathers seem to embody every sitcom-bumbling-dad stereotype–black or white.
The Hispanic spot, by Bromley Aguilar & Associates, shows a guy with a cast who has trouble holding his Whopper, so a Samurai bounds out from behind the counter to chop it in half for him. Did somebody say John Belushi?
Why doesn’t Burger King accept that it had a brilliant thing with the old “Have it your way” jingle, circa 1974, and bring it back? Otherwise, it seems to be wrestling with itself.

Burger King Corp.
“Patch” and “Truck”
Ammirati Puris Lintas
New York
“Backyard Barbecue”
UniWorld Group
New York
Bromley Aguilar
& Associates
San Antonio, Texas