The Wall Street Journal reports on Burger King's latest ad campaign, "Whopper Virgins," which is already generating a fair amount of controversy:
The No. 2 burger maker in the U.S. asked farmers in the Transylvania region of Romania, the Hmong tribe of Thailand, and other folks in far-flung places to sample its Whopper alongside McDonald's Big Mac and declare the winner.
One ad, set to begin airing Monday, features images of villagers in traditional garb choosing the Whopper over the Big Mac. A Transylvanian woman, an Inuit tribesman from the Icelandic tundra and others point and, in their native tongues, declare their preference for Burger King's flagship product.
"We traveled to find the most isolated people in the world...the world's purest taste test," a voiceover says.
Burger King says it was trying to find "Whopper Virgins," which is also the name of its campaign. "We wanted to see how the Whopper would perform in a world that didn't have ad or marketing awareness or any sentimental attachments" to either brand, says Russ Klein, president of global marketing, strategy and innovation at Burger King Holdings.
Some critics have called the ad's use of poor villagers offensive, reports the New York Daily News:
"It's outrageous," said Sharon Akabas of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University. "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?"
"It's insulting," she said, adding that the money used to make the documentary would have been better spent trying to end hunger - not create it.
Marilyn Borchardt, development director for Food First, called the campaign insensitive.
"The ad's not even acknowledging that there's even hunger in any of these places," she said.
WATCH the ad featuring Thai Hmong tribesman.
WATCH the ad featuring Transylvanian farmers.
Are these ads offensive or is this much ado about nothing? Let us know.