Bons mots

Slips of my tongue

Is that a sandwich in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

When I was in university, I took a few feminist-driven courses. In one of the classes, we were shown a presentation on sexism and misogyny in advertising. Open up any fashion magazine, we were told, and really LOOK at each image. Why is that women naked and surrounded by fully clothed, menacing men?  Why is that model on her knees? It was also around the time when Marc Lepine murdered 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. I began to look at the world differently, and filtered all images, no matter how harmless they seemed, through strong, feminist rhetoric.

I’ve loosened up since then and fashioned my own view of what it means to be a woman and my place in society. Ads that got my back up so many years ago are now met with smirks or shrugs. But when I saw this print ad for Burger King, I nearly blew my tea through my nose.


With the popularity of blogs and websites like, nary a sexist ad goes by without its imagery being noticed and commented on. Given the reality of the consumer being  so in tune to what’s going on, most advertisements no longer hide their intent behind their images because, really, what’s the point? They’ll be called out on it anyways. In fact, ads these days seem to give you a wink and a nod, as if to say, “Yes, our ad is racy but we know you’re smart enough to see that. You know we’re being ironic, right?”

But the BK ad is not winking at us. It’s acting like a sleazy guy trying to usher us in to a peep show.

It’s not the stupid clichés or the fact that it’s equating a sandwich with a penis.  It’s the woman in the ad – why is she made up to look like a sex doll? Why is she not enjoying the delicious sandwich she is about to eat? Why is she not showing any emotion? Is she, in a misogynistic sense, supposed to open her mouth and eat (take) it, whether she likes it or not?

Several fast-food chains in the U.S. have hired attractive, female celebrities to hawk their food. Food is often linked to sex and Carl’s Jr. is one of the brands that gets it.

What I like about this ad is that you have a smart, beautiful and successful woman who really enjoys eating. (Note to Carl’s Jr. – more like Padma, less like Paris, please.) There is none of this eat-this-and-fit-into-a-size-2-dress blow to our self-esteem that we get from Lean Cuisine. I don’t eat burgers that often, but when I do indulge in it, yes, it can be close to orgasmic. The Carl’s Jr. ad is quite cheeky with its wink-wink premise that a Carl’s Jr. burger is just THAT good. At least it doesn’t ignore their female audience.

The difference between those ads and the BK one is what is being objectified. In the Carl’s Jr. ad, the burger is the object (most men would disagree with me on that, but hear me out). The women are responding with lust, enjoyment and gratification to the burger (the object). In the BK ad, however, the woman is the object – the way the sandwich is placed draws your attention to her. She is not reacting to the (assumed) tastiness of the sandwich, because frankly, who cares what she wants? the ad seems to say. She is just a prop used by the advertisers to make their clever blowjob joke. Besides, aren’t women supposed to be satisfied with their Lean Cuisine entrees and carrot sticks?

To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have that much of a problem with the ad if she was licking her lips in anticipation. At least she’d appear more human and willing.

I don’t know why BK stooped so low. Was the Super Seven Incher trending low in their 18-24 male demographic?  In any case, my appetite for Burger King has suddenly gone flaccid.


June 24, 2009 - Posted by | FAIL | , , ,

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