Fast Food Giants Sending the Wrong Message


I wonder how many of you noticed the recent ads on TV from Burger King, and McDonalds? Burger King is advertising their Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich as the sandwich with an attitude. The street mentality of calling it a Mouth Whupin sandwich sends a clear message. The ad depicts something akin to family violence, with a bad attitude. What is the message here? The ethnicity of the ad is unmistakable. The hood, thug, hip hopping message comes through loud and clear. These ads are geared toward the slogan have it your way, an empowering statement to make you think you are in control of what you are eating. Are you?

McDonalds has their own version of this Bad Boy advertising, with their ad that makes saying the word FREE, an F word. They bleep the word free each time the paid black actor says it. This message is not lost on me either, and I’m sure it’s not lost on you. McDonalds sells more toys than the Toy giant Toys R Us. Yet they have an ad that is sending a message that has underling tones of bad behavior. What’s next, the action-figure that comes with a 25 auto and drive by shooting get away car?

Burger King is an 11.3 billion dollar a year business with restaurants in 61 countries and territories worldwide, 90% of which is franchised. The Texas Pacific Group, The Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners make up the equity sponsor group that collects and lines their pockets with your money. While children of poor and lower income families choke on fast food that offers poor nutrition, these Fat Cats get rich and I’m certain they don’t dine on greasy beef patties, and stale bread when they sit down to eat an evening meal.

Millions of Americans can’t afford decent food. The cost of diesel fuel has risen to a cost higher than gasoline your food is delivered via truck. Most families can’t afford nutritional foods. Fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and fish are costly. Fast food is cheap and easy to obtain. One of the first words out of a child’s mouth these days is McDonalds. Who doesn’t want better food? You do deserve a break, and that break is better food for you and your family. You are what you eat.

In 2004 an award-winning satirical documentary called Super Size Me brought this problem right to the public. Morgan Spurlock gained 25 pounds, his blood pressure skyrocketed, and his energy level spiraled while he dined only on fast food ( Fast food continues to be a health disaster in America. Obesity, diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease, and many other health hazards are on the rise, yet fast food restaurants have done very little to make their food healthier. The sandwiches have however gotten bigger. Fast good giants spend more on marketing and market research than on product and continue to culture-size their advertisements.

The upper and middle class are moving away from this non-healthy way of eating and are taking heed of the warnings of the World Health Organization report, obesity is an epidemic and fast food is a major contributor. This has trimmed the fast food market to the lower and poor income bracket. Nutrition is a key to healthy living. Medical costs soar as a direct result of poor eating habits. The bottom line is the almighty dollar yet again. Its not profitable to offer the low income good food, they can’t afford it. The Billion Dollar Companies are making a fortune while they help to create a society of ill people who will need billions of dollars in medical help.

The naysayers will read this and say, “no one is making anyone buy fast food,” to the contrary someone is making them buy it! Its called marketing and ethnic-oriented advertising, it does work and it’s not a new concept. Check out the ads for Schlitz Malt Liquor, Colt 45 just to name two.

Next time you see these ads, look for the hidden messages, and try to resist that temptation to separate you from you money. Take that $6 bucks you would spend on a greasy burger and go to your local vegetable market, it will be better spent there. Reconditioning is needed to teach our children the difference between good food, and a good food ad.

Sondra Hickman is the author of Before Life Got Complicated (2006). Sondra was born in Tennessee, raised in South Carolina and lives in New York.