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Fox, Burger King Eagerly Court the Meathead Demo

Burger King and Fox mock Jessica Simpson for her weight–even as it sells hamburgers with 2/3 the calories you need in a whole day.

This past Sunday, during Fox’s pregame coverage of the Dallas Cowboys game, the network teamed up with Burger King to produce this awful, unfunny cartoon:

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If you can’t quite make out the audio, it basically has three Cowboys teasing quarterback Tony Romo for dating Jessica Simpson, saying, for example, that she might be a good lineman. Hey-oh! As Ad Age notes:

We’ve seen tasteless attempts at humor from Fox and Burger King before, but we have to wonder what Burger King thought it was doing attaching its name to a series of fat jokes about Jessica Simpson. Maybe the target demographic is 18- to 34-year-old men, but surely a restaurant chain that slings heart-attack sandwiches is aware that the majority of American women are larger than the star?

To be fair, Fox produced and wrote the spot. But Burger King seems to have been happy to slap their name on it.

Leaving aside the fact that the Romo/Simpson thing is about as fresh as Burger King lettuce–it’s been years since anyone cared about their relationship–the ad does makes you wonder: How desperate are Burger King’s marketers these days?

The Cowboys spot comes fresh on the heels of its widely touted “20/20” redesign of its stores. Intended to “sleek and futuristic,” it just makes me think, “cheap and ugly”:

burger king redesign

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As the Ad Age article suggests, all of these efforts–from the aggressive primary colors of the stores and their Back to the Future III aesthetic, to the crassness of its ads–is meant to court 18-34 year old men, who have always been the mainstay patrons of fast-food dining. Maybe there is a race to the bottom, to secure that demographic.

But go too low, and you only hurt yourself: Afterall, would-be buttheads aren’t the only fast foot customer, merely the most common customer. McDonald’s has taken a different tack, aiming for broader appeal, with stores that look more like a Starbuck’s. And they’ve expanded their offerings to salads and such, to court women. Burger King, meanwhile, seems to being simply giving up on everyone else. That doesn’t seem too bright.

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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