Critics Cringe at Ad for Burger King's Latest Sandwich

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Published June 30, 2009

| FoxNews.com

An advertisement for Burger King's latest sandwich leaves little to the imagination and should be discontinued due to "distasteful" and unappetizing references to oral sex, advertising experts told FOXNews.com.

The print ad for the "BK Super Seven Incher" — a limited time promotion in Singapore, a society known around the world for its strict government controls of social conduct — shows the "mind-blowing" sandwich near the open mouth of a wide-eyed, red-lipsticked woman accompanied by the suggestive tagline: "It'll blow your mind away."

"Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled," the ad continues.

Mark Duffy, a blogger and an advertising copywriter at a major New York City firm, said the advertisement is among the "worst" he's ever seen in more than 17 years of industry experience.

"I've seen a lot of sexual innuendo ads and this is about the worst, especially for something as mainstream as Burger King," Duffy told FOXNews.com. "I was a little repulsed by it. It's really misogynistic to women and it's also unappetizing."

Duffy said it appeared the woman's face in the advertisement had been retouched to make it look like a doll and that the American cheese on the sandwich seemed a little too white.

"It's outlandish," he said. "They obviously didn’t hire a top-notch food photographer."

Duffy, who called on Burger King to terminate the ad, said there's little else marketers could have left to the imagination.

"It's really distasteful on the appetite level and on the social level," Duffy said. "The ad pretty much speaks for itself. How much more do they have to spell it out for you?"

Lauren Kuziner, a spokeswoman for Burger King, said the campaign was produced by a local Singaporean agency and not by the company's U.S. advertising firm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

"Burger King Corp. values and respects all of its guests," Kuziner said in a statement to FOXNews.com. "This print ad is running to support a limited time promotion in the Singapore market and is not running in the U.S. or any other markets. The campaign is supported by the franchisee in Singapore and has generated positive consumer sales around this limited time product offer in that market."

Kuziner declined to identify the Singapore-based firm and did not respond to requests for comment on whether Burger King had received complaints in connection to the advertisement.

Meanwhile, Scott Purvis, president of Gallup & Robinson, a marketing and advertising research firm in New Jersey, said the print pitch went "too far" and seemed unusual for a global brand like Burger King.

"This would be the kind of ad you might see for a smaller brand trying to get itself noticed," Purvis said. "It's probably something that wouldn't see the light of day in this country."

Purvis praised Burger King for its advertising "edginess" and he said sex in ads is an effective way to get consumer attention, but he noted that advertisements on average are recalled at a 20 percent higher rate if they contain sexually explicit images or messages.

"But the problem is, the advertisements, as a group are not as persuasive as all advertising," he said. 'It stops and gets people's attention, but they generally don't go further and get any kind of motivation of interest in the product itself."

Previous marketing campaigns by Burger King have included its award-wining "Subservient Chicken" viral video, spots featuring "Whopper virgins" and most recently, an appearance by rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot and SpongeBob SquarePants. Other slogans previously used by the fast food giant include "Have It Your Way" and "It Takes Two Hands to Handle a Whopper."

"They've done some good stuff in terms of helping to break out of the stereotypical type of advertising you often see, but occasionally they seem to go too far and other times they get it exactly right," Purvis said. "And that's what happens with edgy advertising — you just don't know where to draw the line."

Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at New York University and author of a forthcoming book on the marketing campaign behind the "Marlboro Man," said the ad reeked of a "certain desperation" just to make an impression.

"This is really straining to be dirty," Miller told FOXNews.com. "This is objectionable because it's outrageously exaggerating the pleasure of Burger King. It's not that good, even as food, and therefore nowhere near as gratifying as an orgasm. There's no doubt they intended a double entrendre."

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/06/30/critics-cringe-at-ad-for-burger-king-latest-sandwich