Can We Stop: With the Sexist and Sexualized Food Ads

HEY, CARL’S JR. You’re bold. Bold as hell, in fact. It’s 2015. Feminism has never been more prominent in the cultural zeitgeist than it is at the moment, the call to portray women in a more nuanced light — as more than sexual objects existing for the sole pleasure of men — in the media has never been louder, and yet you have the audacity to release this commercial to promote your All-Natural Burger?

Take a bow. You’ve outdone yourselves. Now, take a seat – that is, if those big ol’ balls in your trousers will let you. Try crossing your legs, it might help.

Your commercial is a problem, for a number of reasons, one of the more glaringly obvious ones being that you are, once again and in keeping with your own traditions, blatantly using the female body and sex to peddle your wares. You did it with Jessica Simpson. You did it with Paris Hilton and Kate Upton and countless other female celebrities. We get it. You’re trying to slang as many of those burgers as possible to your consumer demographic, and sex sells. Apparently, you think that superimposing tomatoes over Charlotte McKinney’s butt and two melons (come on – actual melons?!) over her breasts will sell, too. Ugh. Excuse us as we barf. I think we just caught a whiff of your burgers bullsh*t.

And that’s something else that’s a problem, right there – the way that you’re trying to reach your key consumer demographic: “young, hungry guys,” as you put it, the much-sought-after men of the millennial generation. They might be young and hungry, sure, but they’re not stupid. It’s a little patronizing to assume that a guy watching your commercial is automatically going to be like, “BOOBIES? BUTT? BURGER? MUST. BUY. NOW.” It might have worked in the past, when most men were unaware of or even unconcerned with the ramifications of sexist advertising strategies, but that’s changing. The men of the millennial generation are becoming more aware, more empathetic, more willing to question the status quo and the assumptions bequeathed to them from previous generations.

Consequently, they’re becoming more willing to question what exactly you’re selling them and how you’re going about it. And they’re going to question why you’re treating them like sex-starved, protein-deficient fiends who are expected to turn into Neanderthals at the mere sight of meat, be it bovine or human.

While we’re on the topic of meat, though — that’s the final thing about your video that makes us take umbrage, although it admittedly has less to do with sexist marketing tactics and more to do with marketing tactics in general and playing on people’s misunderstandings of vague terms. The whole point of this commercial is to sell your All-Natural Burger, whose meat you claim is grass-fed and free of added hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Let’s not forget to invite the “natural cheddar cheese and vine-ripened tomatoes” to the party, either. Your Average Joe – your key consumer demographic, in fact – is going to hear “all-natural” and assume that the burger is healthy, or at least a healthier alternative to other fast-food options, since 72% of consumers equate the two terms, according to a recent study by restaurant research firm Technomic. This is, in fact, not true. Sure, the meat is squeaky-clean, but the All-Natural Burger contains 44 grams of fat, 1690 mg of sodium, and 760 calories, and it even boasts one gram of trans fat, that lovely little lipid that leads to coronary heart disease and arterial blockages in the heart and, you know, heart attacks. The Famous Star with Cheese, one of your burgers comparable in size and ingredients, although not billed as “natural,” has less fat and calories than the All-Natural Burger. That’s not even the only option on your menu that will do less damage to a consumer’s waistline than the All-Natural Burger. Yet, people are still going to think it’s healthy because you slapped that little “All-Natural” label on the name. But you, with your million-dollar market research reports, already knew that, didn’t you?

No hate, though, Carl. Do you. Make that (“natural”) cheddar. Just know that we’re gonna do us, which, in this case, means having nothing to do with you. If we found out tomorrow that you donated one billion dollars to the Feminist Majority Foundation, that your cows were raised on sunshine and air alone, and that your burgers caused people to lose weight instead of gaining it, we still wouldn’t touch you or your All-Natural Burger with a ten-foot french fry.

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