Slate magazine has a great article* about Burger King calling it quits with the ad agency that came up with the creepy BurgerKingPlasticFace. Remember that guy? Just stood there while strange stuff happened? I had a math teacher in 7th grade that did the same thing — but at least he’s tenured now. The article talks about how the ad agency was going after younger adult males who eat fast food every day. Burger King wanted to introduce lower calorie options like oatmeal, but the agency called it girl food. I can see their point. “Diet Beer” doesn’t sell very well, in part because it doesn’t seem masculine. The commercials were aimed at their demographic. Fast forward a few years later and Burger King isn’t even Prince. And the Halloween Costume Burger King is no more, thanks be.
Moments after reading that article on Slate, I watched an episode of Mad Men, the one where Don Draper says that advertising is all about making us feel good about what we’re already doing. When they came up with PlastiFace Burger King, their utmost desire was to sell hamburgers and to make us feel good about eating 1,900 calories of DoubleCheezeBac’n TripleBurger.
Moments after reading the article and watching Mad Men, I went to Panera Bread to catch some dinner. Lo and behold, both principles are at work. They aim to sell me fresh, seemingly healthy food (though anyone on Atkins would call this purgatory). Also, the shellac they spray on the bakery bread is the same kind used to keep BurgerKingShellacFace in the proper shape and frightening smiley expression. When I eat at Panera, I feel like I’m making a better choice about calorie intake i.e. the principle of feeling good about what I’m doing. In reality, I’m exchanging a TripleQuadrupleBac’nBurger (1) for processed chicken, tons of bread (have you seen the “bread bowl?”) and some chips (they’re out of apples). On the surface, it looks like I’m eating healthy. In reality, I’m still eating fast food.
Emily buys apples, oranges, grapes and carrots from our our grocer. His name is Fred(2). He sells good, non-processed food. He also sells organic bananas, which means that they are already rotted to the center. I wonder if we’ll get back to fresh food again, like in (what I call) Farmer Times. C’mon. Hipsters can’t be the only ones who get to eat granola (and smell like hemp).
Mmm… hollowed out bread filled with cream of potato soup. Take that, Burger King.
(1) It’s neat that a hamburger and bypass surgery can have the same name.
(2) Fred Meijer, that is.