Fast Food Advertisements In Bad Taste

A while back, I was tuned into a Buffalo television channel and a commercial came on advertising a fried chicken take-out franchise. As the video showed the chicken being prepared the audio accompaniment was a take-off of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The voice used the intro of “I Have a Dream” to state something along the lines of I have a dream of seeing all people of all races, ages, etc. eating this franchise’s fried chicken. I found this advertisement to be in extremely poor taste.

The Rev. King’s speech was an attempt to make a better America. This chicken franchise’s (the franchise has since gone out of business) ad was to try to make a better profit. The attempt of the franchise was, in my opinion, disrespectful to Dr. King and his fight for civil rights. Is it poetic justice that they have since gone out of business?

More recently, I was tuned into another Buffalo television channel and an advertisement came on promoting a Mexican food take-out restaurant chain. It was a spoof of the movie “The Breakfast Club.” The commercial aped the ending scene depicting the assistant principal reading the essay assigned to the students who were given a Saturday detention, each for breaking a different school rule serious enough to warrant the Saturday punishment. In this particular ad, you heard the voice of one student who wrote the essay, stating similarities of the text of what was in the movie, but when he got to the reason for their Saturday morning detention, he stated that it was for skipping school to go to this particular taco restaurant, and that they all felt it was worth their punishment to do so. As the voice in the movie ended his essay by signing off as “The Breakfast Club,” the voice of the essayist in the commercial, signed off as “The Lunch Club.”

I was angered after watching this commercial, as I felt it showed that buying this franchise’s products for lunch was a good reason for skipping school. I felt it showed disrespect for school by even suggesting breaking school rules by skipping, and then giving the impression that the punishment was no big deal, almost laughing in the face of discipline, all in the name of selling some tacos.

I know some may think my feelings are without any sense of humor, or are too serious, but I was, and am, passionate about rules and expectations, of attendance in school, of respect for those who fought for things that would better schools, communities, cities, states, countries, and a world, and I feel both of the fast food restaurants’ ads I saw on television were in extremely poor taste, pardon the pun.

I know many of today’s ads are of the “tongue in cheek” variety – many use satire and sarcasm, many are spoofs of movies, television shows, many use real athletes and entertainers, many push the limits of morality, whatever it takes to promote and sell their product and make as great a profit as the business owners can generate.

Some commercials are very creative, some touching, some funny, some not funny, some entertaining and some irritating. Some are talked about positively and some negatively. Either way, those who are doing the advertising appear to be only interested in having their product and ads being talked about. I am amazed at the hype surrounding the commercials of the annual Super Bowl. It is absurd the amount of money spent for companies to advertise for a 30-second spot during that game, and granted there are some very creative commercials, but the majority of them have left me scratching my head wondering how much they were paying the people writing these ads, and thinking that however much it was, it was way, way too much.

I know it is a goal of advertisers to make the viewers or listeners of the ads think about, remember, and/or talk about the commercial or the product being demonstrated or promoted, whether the ads are perceived positively or negatively. We are all intelligent enough to sift through the trickery, the gimmicks, and the skewed survey numbers in the ads, but anything that is done which is disrespectful to people who have worked to make a difference in the world, or advertisements which might present a negative influence on kids, students, or be disrespectful toward education and the importance of attending school, should not be put on the air.

I understand the First Amendment and believe in the Freedom of Speech, but I also believe that some ads, television programs, movies, etc. stretch the fabric of that amendment to its maximum tearing point. I think the two ads referred to in this piece did just that. I know I can turn the channel when these types of ads come on, and I do, but I’d rather not have seen them in the first place.

I realize that television stations need to make money to keep operating, and I understand that much, if not all, of their revenues comes from selling advertising, but I would hope that, at times, they would go beyond the dollar sign and their conscience would see that some ads might not be in the best interest of some of their audience, especially when it comes to kids. I would also hope that everyone would see the disrespect in some commercials and be a bit bothered by advertisers who use something as serious as a speech working for the betterment of everyone, and twist it to sell something like fried chicken. As stated, I think their ad was in poor taste. It’s possible their product tasted poorly too, or maybe they’d still be in business.