Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Burger King and the Decline of Society

I haven’t eaten in a Burger King restaurant in more than twenty years. When I did frequent this fast-food chain, I preferred it to its chief competitor, McDonald’s. The reason I did was that Burger King enabled me to have my burgers “my way.” That is, I could “hold the pickles…hold the lettuce” and everything else without a big to-do. I ordered my burgers plain and ate them plain. At McDonald's, ordering a plain hamburger invariably initiated panic among the staff. I could never quite understand why getting a plain hamburger was such an ordeal. It would seem to me the simplest kind of order in a burger joint. But not, I suppose, when the burgers are born with pickles, ketchup, and chopped onions on them. I remember receiving “plain” burgers that had undergone a crude scraping off of the aforementioned fixings. Fully scraping off ketchup and chopped onions is well nigh impossible—and forget about the pickle taste.

That was then and this is now. I no longer patronize fast-food burger chains. Still, I was interested in the news that Burger King is scrapping its longstanding “Have It Your Way” slogan and replacing it with—drum roll, please—“Be Your Way.” Now, I don’t know what on earth that means. I do know that it’s a ridiculous reflection of the ridiculous times in which we live. How much money did this burger conglomerate invest to re-brand itself? McMahon and Tate. I daresay, would have delivered something a little more sensible for a lot less money.

In unveiling their new twenty-first century slogan, senior vice president of global brand management Fernando Merchado said, “We want to evolve from just being the functional side of things to having a much stronger emotional appeal.” How’s that? You sell hamburgers and French fries. How about serving better food with better service? Somehow in this day and age everything has to be about making a statement. Everything has to have some kind of narrative beyond the obvious. What does Burger King and a person’s “greater lifestyle” have to do with one another? Absolutely nothing. Where is the Duke of Doubt when we need him?

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