Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why do they hate us?

There has been alot of hand-wringing over the last few years about America's standing in the world. Is there anything can we do about it?

Fortunately, American culture is thriving overseas. And it's good news when a large American consumer products company goes to the farthest reaches of the earth to spread the gospel of American values, right? Right?

Well, maybe not. At least when the company is Burger King and the American values (value meals?) being spread are...wait for it...the Whopper and the Big Mac.

And so the Whopper Virgins viral marketing campaign began.


This is of course a marketing campaign conceived in controversy and aimed at the YouTube generation. Burger King did not just "overlook" the fact that, at a time when America's reputation in the world is at historic lows, it might not be a good idea to send "emissaries" to seek out "indigenous peoples" on whom to perform "taste tests" that the "elite media" would find crass and exploitative.

As BK insists, this might just be a harmless marketing stunt. But it can also be argued that BK is introducing inherently poor eating habits and nutrition to an otherwise healthy people. Ironic considering that American policymakers are up in arms about the literal poison that China is shipping to America in its exported foodstuffs. Someone with a vivid imagination might even see parallels with the Spanish conquistador's introduction of foreign diseases that wiped out large swaths of indigenous peoples in Latin America. I can see the headlines now: The Whopper Virgins Sacrifice. Whoppers of Mass Destruction.

In any case, the purpose of the marketing campaign has been achieved — people are talking about it (e.g. this blog and many others). I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing turned out to be a big goof and the indigenous peoples are really actors. And if it is real, so what if a couple of Transylvanian farmers got indigestion from eating a Whopper? It won't be the first time Americans have been accused of "bad taste." So no worries. Right?

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