Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fine, have it your way

I tend to dwell on McDonald's commercials when I wax nostalgic, but I am reminded that Burger King had commercials, too. Whereas McDonald's relies mostly on Ronald McDonald and friends, Burger King uses, well, just about anything they can think of.

Here's the old-school Burger King. I saw him on the side of my local BK a few months ago, and I was quite surprised, given that they seem taken with the creepy Burger King head guy these days. Note the "make me a shake" gag was also used in one of the "Time for Timer" spots ("Could you make me a banana?" "OK, you're a banana.")

The next big push was The Marvelous Magical Burger King, who may look a little familiar these days. This is the Burger King I remember. The kids' meals tended to have magic tricks that I royally sucked at. The MMBK had his own Burger Kingdom, which I suppose was like McDonaldland in its own way. The one that always bugged me was Burger Thing, a burgery face on a wall that talked. I think this is why Thomas the Tank Engine still creeps me out when my son watches it. You be the judge.

Not only was he magical, he was cool. Would you believe (Holy The Search for Animal Chin, Batman!) skateboarding? Oh, believe it.

One thing you could count on in Burger King commercials was seeing lots of familiar faces. A lot of them you saw before they were familiar, but still...

Here are Andrew McCarthy and Elisabeth Shue in a spot that tells the world that Burger King was now selling Pepsi.

As my dad is a staunch Pepsi drinker, we ended up going to Burger King an awful lot once they switched to Pepsi. And I think he was bummed out when they switched back to Coke.

I could tell the story of the time we were in a Burger King parking lot and he took a drink of his Pepsi, tried to suppress a carbonation-induced sneeze and ended up making a very loud "HHHHNNNNNNNNHHHH!" noise, but that would be embarrassing and not very sporting of me.

I could also talk about the time we got to the drive-through and saw that someone had strategically placed a dog turd around the top of the speaker, but that would be gross.

Here are some other famous faces:

Mr. T

Christine Taylor

Sarah Michelle Gellar (if memory serves, McDonald's sued over this spot)

Emmanuel Lewis

And then they had Herb. Herb was supposedly the last person in America who hadn't tried a Whopper, which as David Hofstede points out in his excellent book, What Were They Thinking: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, must have come as a shock to vegetarians.

So the search was on for Herb. If you found him, you could win money. The problem was that initially, no one knew what he looked like. Hilarity ensued. Finally, they showed Herb during a special commercial during the Super Bowl, and he was a stereotypical nerdy looking guy.

In fact, when a classmate drew a scathing Mad Magazine-style parody of our class, I was drawn with a button that read, "Not Herb." It was the only positive thing about my likeness.

By 1992, there was Dan Cortese and BKTeeVee, which looks an awful lot like the stuff being parodied in "Reality Bites."

Of late, Burger King commercials are often just plain odd. This isn't necessarily bad, but it doesn't really make me want to buy Burger King.

The so-called "Creepy Burger King" has gotten a lot of grief. I think he's growing on me, though. Not so much that I wanted to buy the Halloween mask, but he doesn't bug me.

This makes me want to go to Burger King even though it's not a real commercial. How about you? (Mildly NSFW; there are birds a-flyin')


  1. Not very sporting, eh? I recall you telling that very HHHNNNNNHHHH story about your dad some time ago here...tsk tsk! Have we developed a stronger sense of morals lately? ;)

  2. Oh, and I'm glad that I'm not the only one who gets the oogies from Thomas. *shudder*

  3. The "King" scares the shit out of me. Thank you for not posting the commercial where he pops up in that lady's window like a peeping Tom. Remeber that one? I get the creeps just thinking about it. Consequently, it also makes me crave a Whopper. Job well done, BK.