Oh, I just love it when CSPI gets all gnarly on someone’s bottom. In this case, they’re going after Burger King. Well, again. Here’s Michael Jacobson, CSPI’s executive director, on the new King Kong promotion:
“With its Triple Whopper, Burger King is solidifying its reputation as the fast-food chain most likely to solidify your arteries. A teenager having a Triple Whopper and a 42-ounce shake is going to eat upwards of 2,500 calories and 2 days’ worth of saturated fat in just one sitting. That may be fine if you’re climbing the Empire State Building every day but it’s not fine for your typical sedentary schoolkid.
“When a corporation is so plainly putting its customers’ health in such peril, it has a responsibility to put calorie information right on the menu board. The only reason it doesn’t is because it fears, probably correctly, that people ll order smaller portions. And that means less profit for Burger King.
“While we’ve come to expect the worst from Burger King, we let the entertainment industry too easily off the hook. Those folks shouldn’t be auctioning off Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants, or King Kong to the highest bidder. By doing so they become willful accomplices in the fast-food industry’s apparent war against the public’s health.”
But how about that last zinger at the end? Um, yeah. You would think the brand police behind some of these characters would be remotely on the same page as the people who created the characters in the first place, now wouldn’t you? You should hear my nieces’ sarcasm when they see Harry on the soda cup. They (now) know that soda is bad for them, and they (now) understand the promotional mechanism that lands Harry’s face on the soda cup. The crazy disconnect behind the character and the promotional product pisses them off — and moreso when they see younger kids falling for it. The net effect is completely alienating for them, and Harry loses the fan base that the whole Potter franchise is working so hard to keep: Smart, literate kids who grow up to be adults with the highest disposable income.
It’s so strange in this time when brand management is supposed to be king to see people fall down so heavily. I appreciate how hard movie promoters must work to put fannies in seats in a competitive holiday release schedule. And plastering Kong’s image on every conceivable surface is just how they go about doing it, especially for a movie that is doomed to fail after the first reviews hit the papers. But maybe more the reason not to link the film with exactly the type of product that has already got mainstream families fuming. Why stop there? Why not wrap Kong’s image on the brown bags kids wrap their 40s in, or on filterless cigarettes? Where’s the Kong bong? It can’t be far behind.
Ach. Of course we vote for this sort of behavior with our dollars. Where you spend your fast food money (Ruby Tuesdays) and which movies you do see over the holidays (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada)are entirely up to you. How you vote will determine how these folks behave next year.