Posted by: David Kiley on July 27, 2005
Here we go again. Just when the hoopla and angst by the taste police over Carl’s Jr.’s Paris Hilton online video was starting to abate, Burger King managed to stir debate with the latest online ploy by the talented (Subservient Chicken) ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
BK launched a new website, www.coqroq.com, a site meant to appear as if a heavy metal band of the same name had created it. The site includes videos showing the fictional band members in chicken heads, downloadable ring tones and photo galleries with shots of young girls with handwritten captions like “Groupies love the Coq” and “groupies love Coq.” After the site went live on Tuesday, the bawdy captions were erased. Yawn. It was no doubt done to draw attention and unique visits to the site.
The site is well done for what it is, though I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone of any age would want to spend much time taking in the “music” of a fake band and videos when the central theme of it all is chicken served at BK. Like I said…yawn.
The chicken schtick is supposed to be funny. But what I find hilarious are the deadly serious comments solicited by Advertising Age magazine to spotlight what dreadful fare this website is and how it is setting back women’s status to the 19th century.
From Ad Age: ““Just the name Coq Roq in general is offensive to families,” said Aliza Pilar Sherman, an authority and author on women and the Internet and founder of cybergrrl. “I can’t imagine if parents of a smaller child saw this. They’d say they don’t want their child exposed to this. Where do we as responsible individuals draw the line? Of course there’s freedom of speech but does that mean Burger King should be perpetuating stereotypes, negative attitudes and demeaning behavior to the market.”…“Burger King is perpetuating a crude type of stereotype,” agreed Dr. Martha Allen, director of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. “They’re serving junk stereotypes degrading and harmful to women.”
Now, that’s funny. The only thing harmful to women in this website is if it prompts them to actually order the chicken fries.
I also like the comment in AA’s story from a Subway franchisee: “There’s a fine line between getting the attention of the core target and risking offending the masses,” said Chris Carroll, senior vice president and director of marketing for Subway’s Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.
Yo…Chris. Subway built a whole campaign around a guy who decided to lose all kinds of weight by eating a Subway sammy every day. Talk about dumbing down one’s diet. And did I just see that Subway canned Goodby Silverstein & Partners, probably one of the top two or three ad agencies in the country—along with Crispin Porter—after less than a year of working with them? Hmmm. I won’t offer my opinion regarding the quality of bread, meat and cheese at Subway in this space, let alone the quality of Subway’s ads.
Back to the coq fight. There is nothing more boring than listening to ad critics turned preachers when an advertiser decides to break the mold a bit. Just how many ads and images of grill marks on the chicken breast do we need to see before we all collectively holler: “IT’S CHICKEN. FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF GOD. I GET IT.” This business of screeching “oh my, oh my” every time a kid under the age of 15 might be exposed to a sexual overtone is madness. The world, the schoolyard, the summer camp and the workplace is full of sexual overtones. The point is to deal with it appropriately, not seek to ban it from the media. Anyway, if enough people squawk to BK about the site in earnest, they’ll change it anyway. But perhaps if parents and teachers actually discuss these things with kids, they wouldn’t think they were such a big deal. Imagine, groupies at a heavy metal concert? I, for one was shocked at such a scenario. Paging Claude Rains.
And as long as companies like BK push the envelope with this sort of thing, advertisers will give us those opportunities in the way of conversation starters with our kids to talk about what is tasteful and appropriate, not to mention how cruddy the food is.