Burger King isn’t the type of brand that tackles important issues — it’s a hamburger joint, afterall — but that’s what it’s done this week with an ad against bullying.
It featured a young person being bullied at a Burger King, and the store management “bullying” a Whopper sandwich.
People were more outraged, apparently, by the assault on a burger. The kid? Not so much.
You’d think the idea of bullying a Whopper Jr. would be too goofy to work, but in the end, it does work—more memorably, in fact, than many other anti-bullying ads. It vividly demonstrates a sad truth about bullying—that bystanders would often rather not get involved. And it does so in the starkest terms, by showing how vastly more people are likely to care—or do something—about a $2 sandwich than about a fellow human’s predicament. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s depressing nonetheless to witness. (The bystander theme is one that played out in somewhat similar fashion in last week’s cyberbullying PSA from BBDO and Monica Lewinsky.)
That bleakness of the BK ad is eclipsed at the end, though, by a dose of optimism that feels quite inspirational—a neat trick for an ad that’s just presented you some seriously discouraging statistics. The bystanders who do step in quickly become the heroes. Hopefully, their actions will help make a difference in how other people react when they see bullying—not just adults but the teen peers who hold so much of the power to stop it.
The ad was directed by the same person who made this beauty last year on behalf of , Sandy Hook Promise, the organization formed by family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.