By now you've probably seen the new Burger King ad riffing off the classic Sir Mix-A-Lot "Baby Got Back" that takes it in a new, and to some, horrifying direction. The King's people are pushing a new 99-cent SpongeBob Kids Meal that for some reason touts a combination of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the desirability of a butt flat as a book.
If getting the attention of the American public is the goal, Congrats! You got it. If you're looking to create some sort of kid-friendly vibe, BK, you probably managed to eek out a rating slightly better than letting the kiddies watch full episodes of "Californication" while they slurp the slop in your stores, but plenty of parents groups are ready to storm the King's castle over this one.
"It's bad enough when companies use a beloved media character like SpongeBob to promote junk food to children, but it's utterly reprehensible when that character simultaneously promotes objectified, sexualized images of women," said Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood director Dr. Susan Linn, a psychologist at the Judge Baker Children's Center.
Of course, to defend the deflowering of poor, innocent SpongeBob in these spots is slightly ridiculous. The stalwart stoner- favorite cartoon features a sponge who works in a obesity-building, artery-hardening fast food joint at the bottom of the sea. His hands are dirty, too, but it's easy to see where this angry dad is coming from.
"No parent watching a major sporting event with their children should have to worry about being assaulted by sexualized imagery," said Joe Kelly of TheDadMan.com, a CCFC Steering Committee Member. "Featuring SpongeBob in an ad like this is a new low. Parents who hope to instill values in their children like respect for women would do well to steer clear of Burger King and Bikini Bottom."
For Burger King's part, they say we should ease up - this campaign is aimed at parents.
The Kids Meal is a "value-based offer aimed at adults" and requires an adult BK Value Meal purchase. The commercial is intended to appeal to adults who take their kids to BK, and as with all BK adult advertising campaigns, it is being shown "only during shows targeting adult audiences," the company states. The commercial "is intended to show that even adults can have fun, laugh and be silly with entertainment genres - such as rap and pop culture icons - that have become part of everyday life."
To be honest, I'm almost blunted to outrage over inappropriateness in advertising during child-friendly sporting events. Sir King-A-Lot dropping rhymes about flat booty is a Hell of a lot more benign than watching the world blow up in all its gory glory every NFL Sunday as Fox and CBS try to out-Fox eachother in violent imagery. But still, it's hard to come away from watching these without wondering what was going through the agency people's minds. I get the King's post-ironic, dark-side persona and all, but do we really need to make little Billy and Susie that much more stupid?
Of course, you can also make the argument that parents should use this as a teaching tool. Tell their kids about positive self images, objectification of women and the like, not to mention the value of a healthy diet. You could also argue that the people responsible for buying these delicious kiddie items, you know, Mommy and Daddy, could chose to tell Burger King to shove this campaign up its flat backside and vote with the old wallet not to support a company that finds this appropriate.
Blah, blah, blah. Or maybe it's just easier to blame TV again.
Anyway, if you're not offended - or just want to get super-pissed - and want to see the full-length music video, here it is:
And of course, the classic "Baby Got Back" for comparing outrage for outrage.