What's Up with These Dumb, Pornographic Fast Food Ads?

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In marketing, I suppose it's something of a syllogism that if you make an advertisement that combines food with sexual innuendo -- like this new thing from Burger King -- you've got a winner on your hands. There's only one problem: It's not true. There's this study that shows that overtly sexy ads don't work on women. And these studies showing sexy ads drown out the product, diminish brand recall, and often don't reap dividends even when the product is directed only at men. So why do marketers do it? (Also, let's look at some ads and talk about how stupid they are!)


Probably for the same reasons dogs chase their tail and Republicans call for tax cuts. It's what they do, so it's got to be right. Here are some taxes, let's cut them! You're in a commercial, put on a bikini! Overtly sexual advertising is everywhere, but it's the Laffer curve of the marketing industry.

It's interesting to me that the more successful companies, including food, rarely go the route of "let's seduce/confuse our consumers with sex." McDonald's commercials are basically a United Colors of Benetton ad, with french fries. Coke Zero commercials feature middle-management types carrying on about the legal liabilities of their product. Subway ads are a jingle turned into the song that never ends. ("Five..")

But not Hardee's! Along with their sibling chain Carl's Jr, Hardee's is a decently profitable company (especially in the recession) that still has to shout to be heard over its more beefy brothers McDonald's, BK and Wendy's. Except instead of yelling, they're making balls jokes and asking reality stars to roll around in the sand with their burgers. Strategic marketing! Let's watch and cry.

(Editor's Note: sort of NSFW, but they'll be on TV anyway, so the S stands for suitable)








I'll say, that is some fine-looking smut. Allow me to retort, in kind: 1) No, I do not want to name your balls. I will not be trying them, either. 2) Padma, my dear, take your bacon and go. 3) What I love about this commercial is that they're actually advertising the fruit in that giga-calorie monstrosity. Genius! It's like telling a team of urban planners they should check out Transformers II because streets are involved. Also, Audrina, how many burgers did they make you eat? I counted three. And I counted one up-chuck reflex at 0:05.

Via {Gawker}

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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