Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Have It Your Crazy Way

Once again, we have certain folks freaking out over a commercial for a national fast food chain item. And once again, this annoys me.

The culprit this time is Burger King and something called a Steakhouse XT, which, according to SlashFood, "boasts 7-ounce patties that spill over their corn-dusted buns, with a base topping of mayo, lettuce, tomato and ketchup." And while that sounds just marvelous, it doesn't really explain what the X or the T stand for. (Extra Tasty? Extra Toppings? I don't know.) But it's not the X or the T that are in contention here. The problem is the ad that Burger King was running to sell this meaty, meaty burger.

I will say that as a general rule, I have a problem with all ads that Burger King runs simply because I hate that creepy king mascot thing that they have in all of them. What is with that thing? Why is that an effective means of marketing anything? But my being all weirded out by the King isn't the problem here. The Washington Post says that the problem, according to the "Arlington-based National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation's largest mental health advocacy organizations" is that the commercial is offensive to those with mental illnesses because it feature the crazy looking King running through an office building and breaking through a window pane before giving some office working woman one of these sandwiches before being tackled by two guys who kind of look like Steve Martin in "The Jerk". Those guys explain that the King is "insane" and "crazy" for offering his sandwich for the low, low price of only $3.99. Wait. What now?

Correct. That is offensive to people with mental illnesses, according to a one Michael Fitzpatrick who is the executive director of the above cited organization. He says, "I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled." Really? At what, exactly? "He called the ad "blatantly offensive" and hopelessly retro in its depiction of mental illness, adding that the commercial could lead to further stigmatization, the primary barrier for individuals to seek out treatment. "We understand edgy," Fitzpatrick says. "But this is beyond edgy. Way beyond." Oh, please.

Am I to believe that if a person with an undiagnosed mental illness were to view that commercial that they would re-think the decision to go out and get some treatment? I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think that ever HAS happened. The only thing that a commercial like that is going to further stigmatize is royalty having enlarged, plastic looking heads with constantly creepy smiles on them. Other than that, I don't think that there's much to worry about.

But see, that's just me. I am not Mr. Fitzpatrick, nor am I a one David Shern, who is the president and chief executive of Mental Health America in Alexandria. He claims that the ad is "a perfect storm of images and words coming together." OK. I'll buy that. Most things on TV are a storm of images and words coming together. I don't know that much of what is on TV these days is what I'd call "perfect". He also compared it " an advertisement using the word "idiot" while featuring someone who was mentally challenged." He's clearly never seen Family Guy.

You'd think that mental health groups would have other things to worry about. Don't their clients have enough made-up issues so that it's at the point where they don't have to start creating anything new to worry about. Trust me. There's a whole lot of crazy out there in all shapes and sizes. You're going to meet a lot of folks before you start running out of crazy and have to start inventing more. But it's mental health groups like these who flipped out over "Vermont Teddy Bear's 2005 Valentine's product, which featured a "Crazy-for-You" teddy in a straitjacket" and over a "2007 General Motors commercial in which a robot jumps off bridge after being fired from the assembly line." Listening to complaints like those makes me want to put on a straitjacket and jump off a bridge myself.

According to Ad Rant, in light of these complaints, Burger King has gone ahead and done the one thing that I despise more than anything in these situations. They caved. Apparently "Burger King has since pulled the ad from national rotation (although it may continue to run in local markets). A Burger King representative issued a statement that the ad's "creative concepts" were meant "to highlight the King's unchecked enthusiasm about giving his guests a steakhouse-quality sandwich at a great price and were not intended to reflect any group or situation." Correct. They weren't intended to reflect any group or situation. SO WHY PULL THE AD?!

I am telling you that the first company that stands up to these ridiculous complaints and issues will be hailed by the consumer public as Gods. All they need to do is issue a statement saying, "Sorry. We weren't making fun of you. The ad will continue to run. Get over yourselves and good day." That would be enough for me to give that company all of my future business for whatever it was that they were selling (with the possible exception of Klan gear, but since I'm so sick and tired of companies caving like this, even the Klan gear might not sway me). It's not offensive to anyone. Knock it off. (And if you happen to indulge in this particular burger, let me know how it is, as it looks absolutely delicious.)

The Burger King commercial which offends no one is below. I'm not saying the commercial makes any sense and I'm certainly not saying that it was money well spent (nor can I really endorse paying four bucks for a fast food burger), I'm just saying that it's not offensive.

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Mark said...

The main problem I see here is mayo and ketchup on a hamburger. I am stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled. They might as well put French dressing on it. The correct answer is "mustard."

I bet since this commercial gets him all wound up Michael Fitzpatrick must really hate Psycho and The Dark Knight what with their hopelessly retro depictions of mental illness. (I'm actually surprised that "illness" hasn't been replaced with something more PC. "Illness" is so stigmatizing.)

I'm thinking that double mustard Whopper with cheese would have been the way to go for lunch if BK hadn't caved to these idiots.

Mare said...

Hey, Mark.

While I can't agree with you on the mustard only concept (I'm totally on board with ketchup and mayo), I will completely back you up with replacing the "illness" in "mental illness". I have very few suggestions, though. "Condition" comes to mind, but it doesn't seem much better.

How come none of these mental advocacy groups don't complain about Sonny the Cuckoo Bird who is "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs"?

~ Mare

Mark said...

Ketchup and mayo? It's like I don't even know you anymore.

In addition to Sonny, there are any number of "Crazy ???" furniture and car salesmen. Plus, my personal favorite, Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty. You should google it and check him out.

On the mental illness thing, I was thinking that since some advocates for the physically handicapped like "differently abled" maybe we could go with "differently mental." I think that implies an air of quirkiness rather than stigma and shows that changing the descriptor doesn't change the underlying condition one iota.

Mare said...

I'm sorry. I know I'm just full of surprises on some days. And today's surprise was ketchup and mayo.

What about "alternative cerebral processing" as a substitute for "crazy as an effing loon"?

I looked up the Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty and find it fascinating. I'm not sure what the "thinking" part is referring to, though. But I'm thinking I might need some. The colors! My God, the colors!

~ Mary