Amnesiac Advertising

bkIf you’re over 40 years old – and especially if your name is “Herb” – you undoubtedly remember a gruesome television ad campaign for Burger King called “Where’s Herb?” The conceit behind the 1985-86 campaign, developed by J. Walter Thompson, entailed a hapless character who had never experienced the sublime pleasure of consuming a Whopper (the greasy hamburger, not the sex organ.) Burger King customers were invited to try to identify the mysterious burger-virgin – which was a pointless exercise at the time as Burger King hadn’t yet socialized Herb’s likeness. That didn’t come until a couple months later during the Super Bowl. And as you might expect from a clueless, three-piece-suit Madison Avenue agency, JWT concocted the stereotype of “Herb” as a fashion-addled, middle-aged nerd, complete with the obligatory horn-rim glasses, white socks and high-water, stovepipe trousers. (Side note: “Where’s Herb” was the last campaign JWT did for Burger King.)

Prior to the big reveal, the campaign deployed guerilla marketing techniques by keeping “Herb” under wraps in an attempt to build curiosity and anticipation, which as I recall never happened. Fundamentally, no one cared about the whereabouts of some asshole who never sank his choppers into a Whopper. Furthermore, BK’s offer of a discount off a Whopper to anyone who announced “I’m not Herb” when ordering, also failed to take root. In reality, anyone who actually considered uttering such a moronic claim in public thought twice about it lest they appear to be an even bigger dick than the creepy Herb.

Now it seems Burger King has a bad case of amnesia because they’re trying it again – this time with a the shop-worn character “Subservient Chicken.” A half-page ad in the New York Times this weekend pleads, “Have you seen this chicken?” and advises, “If found, please email” Presumably, like “Herb”, the whereabouts of the “Subservient Chicken” will stay tantalizingly out-of-reach until some big signature event when the fugly fowl rears his bright red comb. And again, will anyone care? Unless the chicken is called subservient for reasons related to S&M, I’d guess “no.”


If past is prologue, expect this lame ad campaign to run a few months before finding its rightful place in the dustbin of history. I can only imagine Don Draper deftly sticking a Lucky in his mouth and uttering a put-down that would make the actual Burger King cry.

Don Sterling Joins the Neanderthals of Sports Bigots

LA Clippers owner Don Sterling is in a jam for recently revealed remarks that to the untrained ear might be considered racist – although his history of such indiscretion goes back a long time. In addition to his ownership of a big-league basketball team, Sterling also makes coin by being a slum-lord. Some time ago, In an exchange with a property supervisor of a building he had just purchased, Sterling remarked on the “odor” of the place. “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean,” he said, according to the supervisor. “And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.” He added: “So we have to get them out of here.”

His opinion of the race of most people who play for his Clippers and the NBA overall is consistent with his views of his smelly tenants.

Classy shit. Definitely worthy to be cast among these sports clowns of yore:

Marge Shott – Cincinnati Reds owner in the 1990s:

Elegant Marge bestows wisdom accrued from many years of managerial experience: “Never hire another nigger. I’d rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger.” And a favorite of many: “Everybody knows Hitler was good at the beginning, but he just went too far.”

Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder – Sportscaster

Half-wasted, quoted in a restaurant in 1988 while opining on the demise of the poor, discriminated white man in sports: “The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade…the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.” Thighs that go up his back? Seems Jimmy needs an anatomy lesson in-between sensitivity training.

Al Campanis – Baseball executive

Uncle Al the Kiddie’s pal explains black inferiority to everyone on Ted Koppel’s show: Blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager” for these positions. Later on he notes that blacks are often poor swimmers “because they don’t have the buoyancy.” Eureka!

Lush Rambo – Radio personality

Regarding Donovan McNabb, QB for the Eagles: “I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” But as McNabb proved for El Rushbo – QB is the white man’s burden.

Fuzzy Zoeller – Pro golfer

On Tiger Woods’s victory at the 1997 Masters, in front of a TV camera, for which its properties to record audio and video I presume the Fuzz-boy was familiar: “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it?” Then Fuzzy walks away from the camera but can’t resist throwing one more line out. “Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.” Whatever the hell they serve? What an ass. Zoeller lost a lucrative endorsement from Kmart, as well as his reputation for being a nice guy.

This entry was posted in Business, TV. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.