USA Today reported last week that Burger King was making a series of changes to its menu in an effort to create a new image. It wanted to offer more healthy options.
“It doesn’t sound like Burger King,” the article said. “There’s a quiet whir of blenders crafting made-to-order smoothies with real strawberry, banana and mango pieces. Nor does it taste like Burger King. Not when one of its three new salads is topped with tangy apple slices and dried cranberries, and covered in an apple cider vinaigrette. You can even get made-to-order frappes.”
McDonald’s did the same the thing a few years ago, and now offers sliced apples as an alternative to french fries in Happy Meals. But show me two kids who want apples with their Happy Meals, and I’ll show you 200 who want fries.
Marketing Burger King as a healthy place to eat is akin to promoting a brothel as a great place for exercise. The reason BK is one of the most popular restaurants in the United States is the whopper, a 670-calorie behemoth of a burger. I go to the chain every so often for comfort food because it’s unhealthy.
If Burger King and McDonald’s were really committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle, they’d close their drive-thrus and make people walk inside to order. Taking a cue from the alcohol industry, they’d also promote moderation: “Try our new $0.99 bacon cheeseburger for lunch, just not every other day!”
I have no problem with businesses marketing products that are unhealthy, as long as they are honest with the consumer about what they’re selling. When cigarette manufacturers began advertising on television in the 1950s, they used slogans such as, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” Today, because of federal legislation, packs carry labels warning of lung cancer and birth defects from smoking tobacco.
Regardless of how many fruity smoothies or leafy salads it offers, Burger King is never going to change its image from a diet buster unless it drops the word “burger” from its name.