For the most part, the actions of the fast food industry inspire fear, loathing, grief, exasperation and mirthless, half-panicked laughter. But occasionally, a quick service chain will surprise us by doing something good for humanity. We don't pretend to think that these actions are motivated by altruism, exactly -- ultimately, the point is usually to create a nice positive brand halo so that people feel OK about going in and spending $12.89 on a fried dinner for three -- but too keep our sanity, it's best sometimes not to look this breed of gift horse in the mouth.
Such is the case with a recent ad campaign from South African fast food chain Wimpy. The company's locations all apparently feature menus in Braille for the benefit of the visually impaired. To advertise that fact, Wimpy decided to launch a viral marketing campaign that would appeal to blind people. But, for obvious reasons, a traditional TV spot probably wouldn't have been ideal, nor would banner ads on websites.
The company had its chefs painstakingly adorn 15 burger buns with sesame seeds spelling out various messages in Braille. (For example: "100% Pure Beef Burger Made For You.") Wimpy then brought burgers using those buns to three institutions for the seeing impaired around South Africa and gave the burgers to 15 blind people. The company filmed these peoples' reactions and made a commercial out of it. The end of the commercial [SPOILER ALERT!] claims that social media spread the positive reactions of the 15 people to a total of 800,000 others.
The commercial admits that the buns were "a small gesture." And on some level, it feels vaguely exploitative. (Let's hope Wimpy donated serious money to the three institutions.) But the commercial is so irresistibly sweet and cheery that we'll give them a pass.