Burgers tussle with acceptable advertising

As if the whole horseburger hullabaloo wasn’t enough to make us wonder if burger manufacturers are tricking us, now Carl’s Jr is having a field day with an ad showing bikini models fighting over a barbecue, and thus inventing their new cheeseburger with pulled pork.

Pulled pork lands on burger in food fight and the pulled pork burger is born

Pulled pork lands on burger in food fight and the pulled pork burger is born. Bleurgh! It’s food poisoning waiting to happen.

This ad would have generated complaints if it had aired in NZ. It’s deliberately provocative, certainly tasteless and objectifies women, etc. etc. Do I want to see ads like this on TV? No. Does that mean the Commercial Approvals Bureau (CAB) should have banned it from airing here? Of course not.

According to the NZ Herald, the CAB ruled the advert could not screen because it used sexual appeal in an exploitative and degrading manner as well as using sex to sell an unrelated product. Let’s take those one at a time:

  1. “Using sexual appeal in an exploitative manner.” Is it exploiting the fact that men like looking at pretty girls in order to build a positive association with the Carl’s Jr brand? Sure. When ads are set in desirable homes, are they exploiting our need to have a home like that? Definitely and deliberately. What’s so different about Carl’s Jr?
  2. “Using sexual appeal in a degrading manner.” Most ads use personalities who are pleasant to look at, who we’d like to be friends with, for example. Does that degrade friendship, or the actors, or whatever stereotype they’re acting? I don’t like the objectification of women, but I don’t think Carl’s Jr is actually creating the problem here. Hey, at least these girls can cook, unlike this famous ad.
  3. “Using sex to sell an unrelated product.” I’m seriously unconvinced on this one. When advertisers use great music in ads, they aren’t selling the music. The bimbos are part of the plot of this burger creation story – it’s not completely unrelated as some ads you can see in NZ.

(I’d love to be proven wrong on this – am I missing the point? Are ads like this dangerous because they ruin future generations’ chances at equality? Please leave your comments.)

To put the Carl’s Jr ad in context, here’s a similar one. Genius. The CAB didn’t rule on this one (it aired in the UK), but if they had, would they have banned it? I doubt it.

The ironic upshot of all this is that Carl’s Jr gets to make lots of press about their unfair ban, promoting online engagement with the ad (and therefore the brand) without having to spend a cent on TV slots. Clever.

Meanwhile the CAB didn’t use the one rock solid argument against this ad… Raw pork on cooked burger? Bleurgh! Seriously bad food hygiene. Go to Carl’s Jr for some E. Coli with your pin-ups!


One thought on “Burgers tussle with acceptable advertising

  1. Pingback: Controversial ads: creative or crude? | The Greedy Kiwi

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