Human Rights

Burger King’s ‘Proud Whopper’ Is Kind of Sketchy

Burger King, in an immaculate brand-leveraging maneuver, introduced the “Proud Whopper” during the San Francisco Pride Parade, a celebration of LGBT equality on the West Coast.

For those not yet initiated, an early interaction between the brand and the brand consumer in the heartstring-tugging viral video/ad campaign released by the fast food conglomerate should explain what the rainbow wrapper-enveloped Proud Whopper is all about:

Burger King: “What do you think of Burger King introducing the Proud Whopper?”

Excited Man: “What? So like it’s a gay burger or what is it?”

“A gay burger,” for our purposes, will work just fine.

The video, published on Wednesday, has garnered more than 2 million views on Youtube, with an impressive 11:1 ratio of thumbs up over thumbs down from the ever-cynical anonymous Internet audience. And it was well earned. People cried legitimate tears of happiness in the video upon reading the message emblazoned on the inside of the wrapper: “We are all the same inside.” Definitely.

As has been rightly noted elsewhere though, at its core, this thing first and foremost is all about moving hamburgers. The message, however positive, is secondary. That can’t be forgotten. Yet, for some reason, that part keeps getting glossed over because of the teary-eyed message at hand.

As Take Part posits, “When a giant corporation uses a social cause to sell its products, we always take it with a grain of salt (see Chili’s). But Burger King’s Proud Whopper, which the fast food chain is making available through July 3 for Gay Pride Week in San Francisco, is so amazing that we might want to buy the burger.”

Basically, “yeah, I see what you’re doing here, Burger King… and I love it!”

And it’s hard not to. The message is great. Beyond that, the issue is still so divisive as to force companies to remain neutral on the matter so as not to offend customers on either side. So it is, in some ways, a bold move on Burger King’s part.

But still, the motive seems so clear. It’s not really about the message. It’s about the brand and a very certain demographic acuity of said brand.

Additionally, it’s hard to find fault with any campaign that raises money to help send high school seniors, LGBT or otherwise, to college, as this one does (the proceeds from the “gay burger” will go towards the company’s McLamore Foundation, which offers such scholarships). But we should be wary of these hybrid activist/commercial movements, as their motives are less than altruistic.