Wednesday, April 15, 2009

International Incident sparked by Burger King

Thanks to Cynthia for alerting me to the incident that threatens war between the US and Mexico. It's not the drug cartels or even immigration. It's a Burger King ad about their new Texican burger. As the copy says, "the Whopper with a little spicy Mexican".
Quite literally, as it turns out. The ad is startling. It shows a tall, handsomish Cowboy and a tiny Mexican dressed as a lucha libre fighter (can we please declare a moratorium on lucha libre? It's really getting OLD). They become roommates and share a house. It's obvious that the creatives scoured their brains thinking of ways in which a tiny little Mexican would not be offensive, so there is a cute scene in which he opens a big jar of pickles for the cowboy, and another one where he is swimming in the pool while the gringo cleans the pool, for a change. I think it's great. I actually find the fact that they are living harmoniously in the same house very sweet and wonderful and symbolically very potent, given the climate of persecution against illegal immigrants nowadays.
The problem is the little tiny Mexican. It's a stereotype.
The creatives will counter that the cowboy is a stereotype too. And they are right, but the cowboy is tall and handsome and the Mexican is tiny and ridiculous. So not everybody will get the postmodern wink of the spot.
I don't find the spot offensive and, according to many comments in You Tube, many other Mexican Americans don't either. But the ad comes at a juncture of dramatic strain between Mexicans and Americans and one wonders whether the creatives and the Burger King executives are either blissfully unaware of this or they thought they could comment on it in their trademark ironic way. As a creative myself, I applaud them for taking the risk. I'm sure, or at least I hope, they predicted the possibility of a shitstorm. Maybe they hoped it'd be a shitstorm that sold tons of burgers.
In any case, it's controversial.
In Spain where they are utterly clueless when it comes to talking about foreigners, for instance, in a print ad of the same campaign the little tiny Mexican is wearing a cape with the Mexican flag (because otherwise Spanish people may not get the lucha libre reference), which prompted our ambassador to object to the campaign in a formal letter. Nothing better to do, I guess.
More offensive than the wearing of the Mexican flag (which the US creatives were smart enough to know was taboo), are the ingredients listed in the Spanish ad: Cajun sauce, cheddar cheese, and beef taco with beans. EEEWWWW!
This is not only offensive but repulsive and I think good grounds for a new Spanish-American-Mexican war.
Remember the Alamo!

1 comment:

  1. That burger sounds disgusting. A processed patty of tortilla, beans and whatever next to the beef patty and why Cajun sauce?

    Sooo clueless.