Almost every agency out there says it has the best interests of its clients at heart. Well, actions speak louder than words. And based on their actions, it’s clear that most agencies don’t have the best interests of their clients at heart; in fact, far from it. Many agencies are more concerned with creating work that makes the agency itself look good than creating work that actually advances its client’s business.
Take the predicament both Burger King and Hardee’s are currently in. Hardees recently produced a spot for its biscuit holes. The spots are intentionally tongue-in-cheek, using terms like A-hole, B-hole and sweet balls to refer to the new product. Chuckling yet? (If you’re not, maybe you should watch the spot – I dare you not to laugh.) But that’s not the point: The point is that the majority of Hardee’s customers find the spot offensive. And if they find it offensive, chances are they won’t be buying Hardee’s biscuit holes, or any other product for that matter.
And let’s not forget repeat offender Burger King. Burger King has fallen into a pattern lately of putting blatantly offensive advertising into the international marketplace, only to quickly retract these ads in response to public outcry. An ad in Spain featured the Hindu goddess Lakshmi sitting on top of a ham sandwich. An ad that aired in Europe for the Texican Whopper pictured an American cowboy alongside a small lucha libre wrestler wearing a cape that resembled the Mexican flag. And let’s not forget about an ad in Singapore that featured the word “blow,” the wide-open mouth of a woman, and a reference to the specific length of the sandwich. I’m all for pushing the creative envelope, but when did distasteful, sexually offensive advertising that targets people’s religion and race become acceptable?
As far as franchisees for both restaurant chains are concerned, it isn’t. According to a recent Ad Age story, Burger King franchisees are blaming the recent decline in sales partly on questionable advertising. Hardee’s largest franchisee, which operates almost 350 locations, has promised not to air the offensive ad and is demanding that the entire campaign be eliminated, claiming the advertising “diminishes not only the product but the [Hardee’s] brand itself.”
The franchisees are the only ones who get it here. Their agencies have their heads shoved so far up their you-know-what and are so busy patting themselves on the back for creating a funny spot that they’re totally missing the point. These campaigns aren’t doing anything to drive sales, nor are they doing anything to enhance the brand image; in fact, just the opposite! These agencies aren’t working for their clients – they’re working against them.
Now who’s the A-hole?