Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Thoughts about the "Pride Whopper"

Source: USA TODAY, "Burger King sells gay pride Whopper"

Burger King announced that one location in San Francisco would sell a special "Pride" version of their flagship sandwich through Thursday. The location was at the heart of the Pride Parade from last weekend. Clothed in a fancy rainbow-colored wrapper, the inside features a standard Whopper and the words "We are all the same inside."

I followed the Facebook "Trending News" link for this, which aggregates all the publicly-available Facebook posts concerning this story that the anonymous algorithms can identify. Many people were appreciative and some were... less so.

There was also a post from a professor of New Testament from a theological seminary who decried it. And that led me to two thoughts.

1) I'd imagine that, like many of his conservative theological brethren, the professor would think that most "gay" people are just making a choice. They've made a conscious decision to go against the grain of society for their own ends. You'd think the professor would take heart from BK's message that "inside we're all the same."

2) Burger King is a publicly-traded company, so it has to do well for its shareholders as a primary goal. So this promotion is one of two things:
     a) Burger King is locked in a heated battle for #2 (far behind McDonald's) with Wendy's. This promotion is publicity, and its operators decided that they would receive more goodwill than they would negative opinion.
     b) Burger King is locked in a heated battle for #2, and they need to generate revenue and publicity anyway they can. A new wrapper the same product is a good way to do this (though only in one location, temporarily).

I saw many people decrying this as cynical advertising, to which I say: of course it is. If Burger King thought there would be tremendous financial backlash from this, they would have thought twice about doing it. As Chick-Fil-A learned in the wake of the CEO's comments critical of gay rights, there can be a short-term gain in sales. But companies need to look beyond the short term, because they serve the shareholders. That's why Chick-Fil-A has vowed to -- in not quite so few words -- shut up about the gay stuff and be cool. ("Chick-Fil-A wings in new direction").

But there is a silver lining for some. One guy said he ate at Burger King every day, but not anymore. He didn't wish to "spen any more of my hardened money on all this fag whopper bullshit not one sent more." So Burger King probably lengthened his lifespan considerably. I'm sure he'll see that in time and let them know how much he appreciates it.

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