If you’ve watched TV in the last few days, you may have seen a 15-second teaser for a new Burger King advertising campaign and website called Whopper Virgins. The premise? Burger King will be going to the furthest reaches of the world, to find so-called “Whopper Virgins” who have never before tasted a Whopper. These individuals will then be given the opportunity to try both a Whopper, and a Big Mac. Burger King is calling this “The World’s Purest Taste Test”, and even feature a countdown clock on their website announcing when the results of this test (in the form of a documentary) will be revealed to the world:

The concept for the ad comes from Burger King’s ad agency, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. It’s a return to the “real life reactions” concept that worked so well for them with the highly succesful Whopper Freakout campaign, which I praised as “genius” when it was first released.

From an advertising standpoint, this is another brilliant move.  Whopper’s whole argument against the Big Mac is predicated on taste – it just tastes better. Well good luck finding an American unaware of the brand association who can confirm that.  Going to the other side of the world, finding people who have never eaten fast food, or maybe not even a burger, is in fact, a pretty cool way to do an objective taste test.  However, as Adage, AdFreak, Huffington Post, Hot Air and Gothamist have reported, some people find the ads to be “offensive.” The blogger at Inquisitr writes:

It’s hard to place exactly where this begins on the level of wrongness. The pipe flute South American music on the website, the pictures of people with horse and carts on one side, and on the other someone eating a Whopper. Hey, but that’s ok, because the testing was “done by independent 3rd party testers.” I think I’m going to throw up now.

Inquisitr adds that the campaign is offensive because it consists of:

visiting poor people in remote locations, some who would be at best surviving on below poverty levels and throwing a burger in their faces

A commentor on the site further expounds:

It’s offensive because BK claims that “these people” are uncivilized by the fact they’ve never had a burger.

A commentor on the site WalletPop proclaims:

I just dislike the idea of going to some remote place and feeding indigenous tribes or impoverished people burgers that are full of fat, trans-fat and calories

First off, cram it, every single one of you. Second, try not to fall when you get off, because you are WAY too fucking high on your horse right now.

(Click below to read me flying further into a rage over these inane complaints.)

For starters, there is nothing in this campaign to indicate that Burger King is portraying these people as “uncivilized” because they haven’t eaten a Whopper. That’s just pure nonsense, so we can dismiss that suggestion as absurd on its face.

As for the comment about feeding impoverished people too much trans-fat and calories, well, whoever said that is a moron. First off, there is no indication that these people taking part in the taste test are, in fact, impoverished.  Second, suggesting that they are “impoverished” just because they are from a non-modern part of the world, is, in and of itself, offensive. Third, if someone IS impoverished, getting tons of calories is a GOOD thing, not bad, and trans-fat is irrelevant.

As for the blogger at Inquisitr who laments the fact that they are “throwing a burger in their faces” um…what? No. They are giving people an opportunity to do a taste test of foods they have never experienced before.  Whatever happened to embracing other cultures? Food is a part of culture, and it is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing, for people all around the world to have the experience of trying food from other cultures.

Take off your righteous American hat for a minute and think about if the situation were reversed.  If one of the largest restaurant chains in the Phillipines wanted to fly to the United States and offer to let me taste a type of food I had never eaten before in my life, I would do that in a heartbeat.  In fact, if I was to REFUSE to do that, wouldn’t that indicate a certain amount of closed-mindedness on my part by showing resistance to trying new foods from other cultures?  How often do you get the opportunity to have food you have never tasted in your life, from the other side of the world, essentially delivered to your door? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t jump at that opportunity, because you would be all over that shit. Don’t apply a double standard here with your faux sympathy for the “impoverished” people you claim Burger King is exploiting.

For better or worse, Whoppers and Big Mac’s are a part of American food culture, and we should be thankful that people in the far reaches of the world, who could never afford to travel to a Burger King on their own, will get to experience eating a food they have never tasted before.  Yeah, the food is semi-crappy, unhealthy and overprocessed, but so what? It’s food, it’s edible, it’s sometimes delicious, and people from the far reaches of the world will get to experience it and discover what part of the American fast food culture is about.

As for the idea that Burger King is somehow exploiting or mocking these people, there is absolutely nothing on the website so far that indicates that this documentary they are releasing will do so.  In fact, all that’s really on the website right now, is a lot of really, really good photography and a countdown clock.

The Whopper Virgins documentary is being made by Stacy Peralta, director of award-winning movies like the skateboarding flick “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and the surfing documentary “Riding Giants.” There is nothing so far to indicate that this documentary will be anything but tastefully produced.

So basically as I said before, all you haters can cram it. This is a briliant marketing idea and I’m sure that all the people who got to try an American hamburger for the first time were thankful for the opportunity.

Update: As a thank you to the villages for hosting them, Burger King donated educational supplies and children’s toys in Thailand and Greenland. The company helped fund restoration of a 17th century church in Romania. So in addition to giving people the opportunity to try a food they have never tasted before, they benefited with toys, educational supplies and a refurbished church. I ask you, would these people have been better off taking part in this experience or not taking part in this experience? Seems to be a pretty clear answer to me.

I look forward to the release of this documentary and the results of this taste test.  For those who haven’t seen it yet, check out the 15-second Whopper Virgins teaser ad below:

23 Responses

  1. Alice

    Imperialist bourgeois neoliberal ignoramus defending your privileged anthropological approach to food.

  2. myummers

    i am in agreement with you, eick. anyone who found this campaign offensive, well…i hope they die. it’s true. the world would be better off without them. and you know what? i find it offensive that with all the problems of the world today, these idiots are focusing on an ad campaign.

    personally, what i do not like about this campaign is that a whopper and a big mac are about as far away as you can get on the burger spectrum. i don’t care what else is on a burger, if you put that disgusting fucking green special sauce on it, i’m not fucking eating it.

  3. Scotus

    I agree that the objections are absurd, but I do wish someone had thought of this besides Burger King. It’s actually a genius idea, and I’d be interested to see it executed by someone who doesn’t have a financial stake in the outcome.

    Not just the Whopper vs. Big Mac, either. Coke vs. Pepsi. Lays vs. Pringles. Popeye’s vs. KFC. We could finally get independent confirmation that Domino’s Pizza does, in fact, taste like crap. Someone could probably get a TV series out of this.

  4. Brian

    I wish I could say I’m a Whopper Virgin. My stomach still hasn’t recovered from the first one.

  5. Cary

    “Imperialist bourgeois neoliberal ignoramus”

    insane condescending fascist dolt. wow. that was more fun than i thought it would be, thanks alice.

    and yes, the imperialist days are not over, but an ad campaign doing world-wide taste tests on two mediocre burgers is not going to murder cultures, subjugate them to slavery, or eradicate their livelihoods.

    they will simply have to pick between two horrible burger things.

    and yes, Jeff Probst should be hosting this.

  6. Mary

    The poor impoverished back-water peasants are all from central casting, anyway. Who bothers working up that much righteous indignation over a hamburger commercial? No one of quality, I’ll tell you that for nothing.

  7. Youppi

    Whopper Virgins is good and all, but I want to know where all the Whopper Sluts are… am I right?

  8. Eick

    Imperialist bourgeois neoliberal ignoramus defending your privileged anthropological approach to food. – Alice

    Umm, I’m sure I could smack this down in about 4 seconds, but…do I really have to? I mean this psychobabble with no logic or reasoning behind it kind of defeats itself.

    Alice, come back and comment again when you have something with a little more substance to add to the discussion.

  9. Barf

    They ought to throw 5 Guys and Z burger in the mix as well. That would really prove something.

  10. rossitron

    @Eick: thank you.

    @ Alice: your sentence is incomplete (I have a high horse too, see?)

  11. jack spade

    Im getting offended by peoples reactions. one person said that burgerking was portraying these people as “uncivilized” to which my response was, “then your view of civilization must be based on what people eat, because all burgerking said they lacked was a whopper”.

    another said burger king should have used the money to help feed them real food, and get them out of impoverishment, which is ridiculous because burgerking as a company, is hundreds of thousands of people working hard to earn their money, and i would hate for someone to tell me how to spend MY money. and on top of that, its burgerkings aggressive marketing that EARNED them that money in the first place!

    a third person said it was wrong of us to be expanding, business wise, into these other countrys. this ABOVE ALL ELSE outraged me, because these people who complain about american business in other countrys seem to forget the number of foreign businesses in america. 711 being one of the huge ones, is owned by a japanese company . half our cars are from over sees, 90% of ethnically themed restaurants were established by their respective cultures, and in a way, can be considered foreign business. look around you and see how much of what you buy on a daily basis puts money into foreign economys and try and understand the value of a global economy.

    finally what offended me about peoples reactions. was how they were blaming america for getting their people fat. this makes me assume that they believe a few things.

    1. american fast food is somehow, more powerful than local fast food, or local fast food is non existant (which may be the case)

    2. people shouldnt have the right too choose what they eat, because people cant control themselves.

    I don’t know about you, but i don’t blame the Chinese for getting me fat every time a Chinese food place opens up. I’m aware that its not ‘real’ Chinese food, but to be honest i dont consider burgerking ‘real’ American food.

    as for the willingness of the participants, its a burger not crack. you cant blame the ‘fatass american’ theory on why they tried it because they never had it before, and i seriously doubt they had a gun to their heads. i love trying foreign foods personally, and clearly these people do as well. i have to pay 1.50$ to get a pizza delivered from down the street and these people are getting food flown in from across the world for free, it makes me wish other countrys would start doing the same thing.

    words can not express, how disturbed i was by peoples reactions to this campaign, but i made an honest try at least. so for everyone that finds this ad to be in bad taste, i have 6 words for you. Fuck you, im getting a whopper.

  12. James

    I’d just like to address a minor point:

    If a major burger chain from the Philippines (namely, Jollibee) came to you and wanted you to taste test their food … unless you like gobs and gobs of mayo on your burger, I would suggest either a very large bib or skipping the test.

  13. Tim

    A bunch of trendy, self-indugent ad douchebags wearing ironic tee shirts and oh-so-cool hats from @radical or Traktor sitting around thinking about how they might win their next tin bowl or aluminum knick-knack award. Fucking pathetic.
    These ads are shit.

  14. LZ Zulu

    The idea that this is the “Purest Taste Test” is a load of bull. Burger King paid to transport burgers and film crews by helicopter to remote corners of the world. You think they’d actually show you the footage of people who didn’t like the Whopper better?

    Burger King doing this in “impoverished” areas of the world or that they are feeding people fatty food is not really that offensive. I agree that people making an assumption that these people are “impoverished” is in fact equally offensive.

    However, assuming that these people’s apparent ignorance of American food culture means that they have a “pure” judgment of it, and then using this to sling your product IS offensive. In this instance, leveraging someone’s supposed ignorance as a marketing ploy is also ineffective. If Burger King wants to convince me that their food tastes better, what the hell do I care if some tribesman from the Bush likes it better than a Big Mac. Maybe they should take all that money they spent on helicopter fuel and use it to flavor their burgers here. Or, how about a discount on my Whopper?

  15. Ryan

    It is hardly unbiased. BK is just going to omit people who choose the Big Mac from their advertising gimmick.

  16. Eick

    LZ, Ryan,

    Did you guys actually watch the video? Because they did, in fact, show a number of people who preferred the Big Mac to the Whopper, they didn’t just omit them from the video. The video focused very, very little on the results of the taste test, merely showing a quick collage of people choosing either the Big Mac or Whopper.

  17. DEEDEE



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