Burger King ads target blacks only?

Okay I’m sure everyone has seen their fair share of television commercials. Theres Nike, Coke, Pepsi, Macdonalds and many other frequent ads. Now the purpose of advertising is to encourage the viewing audience to buy your product or service. Thus the ads (developed by only the best experts in the business) try to reach all levels of interests, mostly ignoring sex, race, age etc…

Now why does Burger King only make commercials with black people in it and “soul, rap” type music and “ebonic” toned commentators. Not to complain or anything, but it has been on my mind for a while and each time I see a Burger King commercial, it keeps popping up. Don’t they realize that they may be pushing away non-black customers by producing bias commercials which only depict african american workers/customers/theme…?

So, what (?), if “black” people patronize Burger King, you can’t go there?

What pisses me off is that they only use white people in commercials for jock itch and feminine hygeine products.

Getting off the PC horse for a second here. I doubt most Americans would choose to stop at a BK in a totally black neighborhood with a totally black staff and clientele. Something about the crime statistics in those areas, ya think? But of course, some liberal will charge in here any second saying something about it having nothing to do with crime, its just “racism”. Yawn.

Also, why did you put the term “black” in quotes?

Because I don’t believe any “race” can be quantified - i.e., it’s an invalid concept - so describing something as “black” serves up only a meaningless description.

You totally missed the point. It has nothing to do with the actual Burger King restaraunts. I am trying to say, Burger King ads seem to only target blacks with “black themed” commercials. I am wondering why they choose to do this.

Actually, all the fast food chains have what they would term “urban” oriented commercials. Maybe Burger King does more of it, but the other places have their fair share. Just look up “urban” (the ad world’s euphemism for “black” as if there are no black people in the country) and “advertising” to see how this all works.

In the commercials, it seems in the “white” fast food joints, people are just smiling and quietly eating their food - maybe with muzak in the background. In the “black” version - there’s rap music, everyone’s running around dancing, … what are they putting in the soda there?

Anyway a lot of people put “white” and “black” in quotes, not to belittle any individuals, but to show that we think these categories are sort of arbitrary anyway.

I’m old enough to remember when ads (ALL ads) had white folks in them. Period. As far as Madison Avenue was concerned, demographically speaking, blacks did not exist.

So every time I see a BK ad with happy black folks buying burgers, I think, “Ah, at last–BK has finally entered the 20th century, and realizes that black folks eat at Burger King, too.”

All I know is that I’ve done it, and I’m not black (with or without quotes).

Didn’t bother me any. But then, I prefer to eat my Whopper and drink my Coke without worrying about the stereotypes perpetuated by some sheltered self-proclaimed “expert” on the internet…

I’ve heard several bad “black” comedians joke about the BK commercials. It’s usually a variant of the usual “white-people-walk-all-stiff-and-black-people-walk-cool” stint. “Ever notice that Mac Donald’s commercials show a bunch of happy, smilin’ white people just sitting up good n’ straight, all smilin’ at each other, and eating their Big Macs … and all the Burger King commercials show a bunch of bruthuas and sistahs dancin’ and jumpin’ around, orderin’ their food old school East Coast style …”

Because they believe they will make more money by doing this. Other corporations disagree.

I think DDG’s post bears repeating. Anyone have the breakdown on ethnic demographics in commercials? Anyone want to bet that it’s still disproportionately white overall?

I’ve never gotten the impression that whites were unwelcome at Burger King. You don’t have to be black to enjoy the music or identify with those commercials.

And I wouldn’t say that BK “only” produces “black” commercials. Remember the commercials from about a year ago with no voiceover, no people, just old songs (Urgent, urgent, emergency! Who do you think you are, Mr. Big Stuff?) and spinning, pulsing Whoppers? I’ve seen more “black” commercials for McDonald’s than BK.

No bet. I like my money in my OWN pocket, thanks.

But, one targets advertising towards the demographic most likely to respond.

I haven’t seen the commercials in question (no TV for several months) but I’d be surprised if BK didn’t have several types of commercials with variations aimed at both black and white audiences.

Heck, you can see it here in DC. Depending on where you are in the city you can see the exact same billboard but the people in them are either black or white, depending on the neighborhood you’re in. Just basic marketing. Rule #1: Know Thy Audience.

Well another thing to consider is that fashion comes from the bottom of the social scale, which unfortunately skews racially. By promoting to black audiences BK is essentially promoting to the wider audience as well.

My 2 cents.


I’m not sure what the OP’s going on about. I’ve seen the ads for various fast food chains and the only thing I find odd about them is that the patrons are either ALL white or ALL black (Denny’s is a mild exception, I think). The OP’s just noticing the ads that seem strange to him while the all-white ones pass unremembered, like most advertising.

In any event, if these tactics cause Burger king to lose sales, you can bet they’ll notice right away and try something else.

The information that’s missing here is what show(s) was soulsearching watching when the ads were aired.

Most national advertisers have “target specific” ads that are tailored to appeal to the audience demographics expected to be viewing that type of program. The fast food ad that airs on ESPN will most likely be skewed differently than the one on Lifetime.

I’m not familiar with the particular ads in question, but a few years back, when Sprite was losing market share, they decided to aggressively go after the youth market. They hired a black NBA player as a spokeperson in ads which generally mocked Sprite. Mocking being very popular with today’s youth market. Kids had a product that was speaking their language. Sprite was cool.

The ads started to click with kids, which is an excellent market to develop. Brand loyalty established early is gold! Encouraged by the early results, Sprite went on to sponsor rap concerts and awards shows, becoming a hip thing to drink. At these awards shows and concerts aired on MTV, top rap acts appeared nationally in front of a giant Sprite logo. Sales skyrocketed. Not bad for another lemon-lime knock-off of 7-up.

As far as BK not realizing they may be “pushing away” customers with these ads, it reminds me of my aged mother-in-law and the Carls Jr. ads where ketchup and mustard would spill out of the burger making a mess. She couldn’t understand how they expected senior citizens to want to eat there if their food was so messy. Sometimes, you just have to realize you’ve grown out of a target demo. They’re no longer interested in you.

Interesting how the wheel has turned. I remember in 1985, Michael Nesmith’s short-lived series “Television Parts” featured a pre-talk show, Arsenio Hall doing a routine about how all the fast food ads featured really white people, so he presented one that would appeal to a black audience. With white customers fleeing the singing and dancing black counter people. (“Put the meat, on the bun. Put the cheese, on the meat. Put the sauce, all over the food. All over the food…”)

Quite a few years ago, McDonald’s started producing ads targeted at the “urban” audience (that’s when they started using the nickname “Mickey-D’s” in their ads). It worked very well for them and I’m not surprised Burger King is following suit.

This is, of course, received Madison Avenue wisdom, but studies have shown that it’s just not so. People continue to switch brands all their lives and the difference as they age is negligible.

Boy, that does go against convention corporate thinking. Do you have anything that supports it?

Not challenging it, mind you, just curious. My firm isn’t really in a ‘branded’ position so I haven’t done much of it.

I think maybe you don’t notice how other commercials are geared towards “white” people. We tend to assume whiteness is the default, and that things pretaining to whiteness pertain to everyone. So we don’t really notice the ways in which some things do not “try to reach all levels of interests, mostly ignoring sex, race, age” but rather deal specifically with whiteness.

So when you see a commercial with black people in it, it stands out and you say to yourself “oh, this is about black people, only.” whereas when you see a commercial with white people in it you are more likely to assume it is a commercial that is targeted at everybody.