Perhaps you watched the Super Bowl yesterday. Perhaps, like me, you found the game, the halftime show, and the ads underwhelming. But what the heck was going on with that Andy Warhol ad for Burger King? Go ahead and waste 45 seconds watching it:
If you had 45 seconds to put your brand in front of about 100 million viewers for $4 million or so, is this what you would do?
Where this footage came from
According to Adweek, in 1982, a documentarian named Jorgen Leth made a documentary called “66 Scenes in America” that included this footage of the late Andy Warhol eating a Whopper. I’d actually heard about it since it was mentioned in one of the “Men in Black” films.
Burger King’s creative shop David Miami found the footage and pitched it to Burger King.
Here’s a direct quote from Burger King’s global chief marketing officer:
“It’s one of those things that when David brought it to us and we watched the film our heads exploded. . . . What are the chances that your brand will have an asset like that? It’s beautiful!”
And here’s what David Miami’s executive creative director Juan Javier Peña Plaza had to say:
“We thought, ‘What if we put this in the middle of the Super Bowl?’ And then everyone’s head exploded. . . . It was like, holy shit if we manage to put this in the middle of the biggest extravaganza of the year, we’re going to blow everyone’s minds. It’s so simple, and it’s sort of meta. You’re breaking the fourth wall in a way and messing with people.”
So naturally they did the work to secure the rights from the Andy Warhol Foundation and the estate of the documentarian. Because, as Machado said:
“The typical Super Bowl ad tends to be loud music, full of celebrities and really screaming loud to break the clutter. . . . We see our ad as breaking all the rules of the typical Super Bowl ad—our ad doesn’t have music, doesn’t have voiceover, is not 30 seconds, was not shot this year. Our ad was shot in 1982. I believe that it will act like a silent assassin during the Super Bowl—it will cut through the noise with silence.”
Silent assassin my ass
Here’s what this ad did: it got your attention. Then it just made you wonder what pathetic fools wasted their money this way.
Warhol doesn’t appear to be enjoying the food very much. (Apparently he preferred McDonalds.)
It looks floppy and unappetizing. It looks like a real Whopper, not like the puffed up ones in a typical commercial. Except a real Whopper from 2019 has lettuce and stuff like that, and this one appears to have just a flat burger patty.
No one who would consider eating at Burger King remembers who Andy Warhol is. No one who remembers Andy Warhol likes to go to Burger King.
Who is this aimed at? Pop arts fans from the 80s who like fast food? Not a very broad demographic. And the Super Bowl is about broad demographics.
“But you’re talking about it!”
Yes, I am. I don’t eat there. My kids don’t eat there (and didn’t watch the game). And you don’t eat there. Prove me wrong: If you’re reading this and the ad made you want to check out Burger King, please say so in the comments.
The people who are talking about it aren’t eating there.
This agency and CMO lost sight of what advertising is supposed to do, which is connect some sort of emotion with a product to create desire or awareness. Burger King already has 100% awareness. This creates no desire.
Next time you have an advertising, marketing, or promotional idea that “makes your head explode,” ask whether it will make a difference to potential buyers.
If not, keep thinking, because you’re not there yet.