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Burger King Offends Hindus, Contemplates $1 Cheeseburger

Burger King Battles Controversy, Contemplates Menu Changes

Burger King has found itself in the spotlight again after offending a religious group and most recently contemplating major menu changes. The number two fast food chain has upset Hindus worldwide with a new Spanish print campaign that features the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi, sitting atop a meat sandwich with the caption, "A snack that's sacred," in Spanish.

The Hindu religion, which has the highest proportion of vegetarians among major denominations, frowns upon showing meat with a revered goddess, as well as exploiting one of its sacred symbols. Although the Hindu American Foundation has demanded that Burger King pull the ad, so far, BK has declined to comment. Perhaps the chain's executives were focused on other developments. Today, Burger King store operators are voting on a measure to slash the price of its double cheeseburger to $1 this Summer, in an effort to win over competitors' customers — and at a time when top rival McDonald's has been focusing on premium offerings. Last year, rising costs forced the world's biggest burger chain to remove its trademark Double Cheeseburger from its Dollar Menu.

Do you feel that Burger King has made two major missteps, by offending members of a religious community, and focusing on low-end items? Should the advertisement be withdrawn, and an apology issued? Would you be more likely to eat at Burger King than McDonald's if the company offered a $1 double cheeseburger?

Photo by flickr user Neubie

Magycmyste Magycmyste 8 years
Well... 1) I'm Hindu. 2) I eat meat, even beef, though not too often (both my parents are vegetarians, so I've been raised mostly vegetarian) 3) I happen to not be very religious. A little religious, yes, but not very. But I was very religious as a child, and if nothing else, I've studied as much of the mythology as I could get my hands on over the years. 4) If you can't tell, the next part is likely to get very ranty and more like a lecture on Hinduism, so if you don't want to read it, I suggest you skip over the rest of my comment. There is no one text that defines what is good or bad in Hinduism, such as the Bible or the Koran. The religion is a more a mixture of culture and good moral sense than a map telling you what and what not to do. Eating meat/not eating meat, as someone has pointed out above, is not part of the Hindu religion. If you go to an Indian restaurant anywhere in the US, it is very likely that there will be a section of meat dishes on the menu - lamb, chicken, goat. Yes, there are a number of Hindu vegetarians, likely more than in most other religions, except maybe Buddhism (which is technically an offshoot of Hinduism, anyway, if you look at the fact that Siddartha, the Buddha, was born a Hindu prince), but it is really more of a very popular choice than a cultural or religious mandate. What you will NOT find is beef. While, if I remember correctly, eating beef is not strictly "against the religion" (there are stories in mythology that depict wise sages and such eating meat, including beef - they were still revered, somewhat in the manner the American Indians revered buffalo for providing them with everything they needed to survive - food, weapons, clothing and shelter. Don't ask me to provide the exact story - it would take a LOT of searching, and it's posible that I no longer have the book), cows do have sacred connotations in Hindu mythology. Particularly in the story of Krishna, and this sacredness is reflected throughout the mythology, and is the basis for a lot of Hindu vegetarianism. So now that I've rambled long enough about that - I am glad Burger King is pulling the ad, or if they have not done so yet, they need to. Personally, I think they should apologize as well, but I'm not expecting that, and I would be happy enough with a pull of the ad. (And I was equally, if not more offended back when Aerosmith took a picture of Krishna dancing on Kaliya's head, and replaced Krishna's head with a cat's.) It is disrespectful, not only to the religion, but to the artists who made the original pictures, probably out of their religious belief. As far as the second question, I generally don't eat fast food anyway, and when I do, it's because I'm horrendously hungry, and will eat something from whatever restaurant is around.
BellaVida12 BellaVida12 8 years
Burger King is gross.
Food Food 8 years
Burger King announced shortly thereafter that it would be pulling the controversial ad.
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
agree with chancieta on points 1 and 2. i'm also sick of companies have to apologize for everything they do. but not on 3, i don't eat burgers so i don't really care how much they are!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i feel like there's no way for any chain to win these days. someone is always pointing out something that makes people mad since they are so wide spread - so it's one of those things that you just have to take in stride. i'm sure that they did testing of the creative before it was launched - cause crispin or any agency isn't dumb enough to not do that - but still...i don't know - i feel like it's just something to be taken in stride.
chancleta chancleta 8 years
1. Pull the advertisement. 2. Issue an apology? Oh for the love of Pete. Seriously? Have we become so PC (politically correct) that we have to apologize every single time someone is offended. I say pull the ad and leave it at that. 3. Yes I'd be more likely to go to BK if they offered me better prices that McDs. A cheap hamburger is a cheap hamburger. I'd rather pay a $1.
misogi misogi 8 years
I'm starting to think that Burger King pulls these kinds of stunts on purpose - they're always making news for their offensive advertising. I'm not even easily offended, but I feel like BK always oversteps their boundaries.
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 8 years
Since most vegetarian Indians probably don't eat Burger King, the ad isn't a big risk for BK. Making fun of Jesus, while funny, would probably offend a larger part of their audience and so would be a bad move.
MsMO MsMO 8 years
I don't really care, I eat BK over McD's anyway. McD's make my stomach hurt. If only I could get a Whopper with McD fries though. Tasty.
macgirl macgirl 8 years
Phil, I don't think BK or their ad agency would have any problems with that campaign idea. They are probably upset they didn't think of it before you wrote it here. I'm over BK. I'm over cheap crap food. I have never been a fan of McDonalds but they have done a nice overhaul. I have actually put them back in my list of places I can stop when I'm on the go, mostly for their coffee though.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I agree BK was culturally insensitive. They really should pull the ad, and offer an apology. Truthfully, I would eat at McDonald's more because there are more locations. They are conveniently located at many places I frequent. There are less BK's around. So for me, it's not about their prices, as much as it's about convenient locations. In my opinion, McDonalds' strategic (read: smart) locations gives them the edge over other franchises. Of course, their adaptive, affordable menu helps, too. But, to me, their success is due to good locations (being smart about real estate). JMHO.
Phil Phil 8 years
Those are the very least of what's wrong with burger king, and any fast food chain. I love to see how the company would react of someone created a burger king ad with Jesus standing on top of a cheeseburger saying "Cheese, burger, bun--the yummy trinity!" If they feel comfortable running an ad such as the one in Spain, they should feel comfortable with Jesus standing in beef treated with rBGH spouting cheesy puns likening religious symbols with menu items.
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