Burger King recently rolled out a campaign in promotion of “Chicken Fries” that reaches a new low for morbid and disturbing fast food marketing.
In a grand attempt to build anticipation for this product—breaded and fried chicken strips—Burger King ‘hired’ a chicken named Gloria to tour around the country ‘deciding’ whether or not chicken fries will be sold at certain Burger King locations.
Here’s how it works. Carted around in a custom ‘chicken fry’ coop, Gloria publicly ascends a ramp to meet two identical bowls of food, one labeled ‘yes’ and one labeled ‘no.’ It’s pretty self-explanatory: If Gloria eats from the yes bowl, chicken fries are offered at that Burger King location for a day. If she eats from the no bowl, on-looking fans shout their aww‘s and boo‘s as Gloria continues down the road, leaving no chicken fries to be eaten.
In their idiotic first video introducing Gloria, Burger King’s tour director says, “Who better than a chicken to decide if chicken fries come back to the Burger King menu?” So Burger King finds a sprightly-looking hen to drag around the country casting the fates of other chickens.
Funny that Burger King isn’t interested in using the chickens from the actual factories where their chickens are grown. But then again, a hormone-pumped broiler chicken unable to lift its disfigured body even a few inches out of the battery cage probably wouldn’t go over as well as the glamorous, sleek Gloria.
It doesn’t take outraged vegans to see the sadistic, disturbing nature of this campaign. Slate magazine called the marketing effort “absurd” and “kind of messed up,” noting that Burger King is basically “sending a live chicken on tour with a bunch of dead chickens all because the company’s execs couldn’t make up their minds, or thought this would be cute, or something like that.”
We all know by now that chickens are quirky, social beings that experience suffering and pain just as any other creature. To subject a chicken—even an unwitting one—to be the happy face for the latest fast food marketing scheme is just wrong.
And it’s not only about Gloria as an individual—she is most likely one of the lucky chickens who might retire to a sanctuary some day after her nationwide tour. However, what about the 7 billion chickens killed for human consumption each year in the United States alone? How is it that crowds can flock to see Gloria perform her judgment and then turn around, walk into Burger King, and physically place the bodies of chickens just like Gloria into their mouths?
It might have something to do with the way Burger King views their customers: ignorant at least and apathetic at best. When talking about Chicken Fry enthusiasts, Chief Marketing Officer of Burger King North America Eric Hirschhorn put it perfectly: “Chicken Fries have hijacked [customers’] brains, not to mention their appetites.”