THE BLOG

Burgers and Insanity

06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Have you seen the Burger King TV commercial that has caused quite a bit of controversy and outrage in the mental health community?

In a nutshell, it is Burger King's mascot, the king, running wildly through an office building. He is tackled and restrained by two men in white. They say he is "crazy" and "insane" for wanting to sell his burgers so cheaply.

Mental health organizations argue that they have worked very hard to erase the old school notions of mental illness (i.e. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). They fear that images like this will bring stigmatization to mental illness and make people afraid to seek treatment. Perhaps giving the impression that people struggling with a mental health issue will be locked away in a little white room.(See the commercial for yourself)
Is this a case of another commercial pushing the envelope to grab the attention of its viewers or is it disrespectful and possibly harmful?

There are a few subtexts to the commercial that aren't mentioned by the mental health organizations but may also cause objection by those who are concerned about the impact of marketing on the way we eat.

Does the commercial also say?...

1) It's normal to lose control over yourself when eating fast food. Why bother trying to eat it mindfully?

2) It's cheap. Who cares about how healthy it is as long as it's a deal.

Another group that is rallying to change fast food marketing is an organization that wants to eliminate Ronald McDonald. They appear to argue that Ronald has a significant impact on the childhood obesity epidemic (see RetireRonald.org). As you can imagine, it is a heated controversy. Some say that parents alone are responsible for choosing what to feed their children and that marketing has little to do with kids being hooked on fast food. Others say the opposite. Kids are highly influenced by the ads and images they see.

The question, in general, is how much does the media impact what we buy and consume? Does a "crazy" king and a red head clown impact the way we eat? Feel free to weigh in on this issue...

By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of the new book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully www.eatingmindfully.com