Burger King’s Super Bowl Ad Featuring Andy Warhol Leaves Viewers Confused
Burger King just used the late pop artist Andy Warhol to create the artist’s favorite effect some 30 years after his death: confusion. In a 45 second ad that aired during last night’s 53rd Superbowl Game – a spot for which companies pay nearly $5 million – BK showed a younger Warhol eating the store’s signature Whopper out of a now-vintage BK bag. Other than a muttered grievance at the ketchup toward the beginning of the ad, the commercial is basically silent, with the hashtag #EatLikeAndy appearing at its end.
The commercial isn’t typical for Super Bowl ads, which usually feature star-studded casts and elaborate sets and special effects, but representatives for the fast-food chain store held firm to their controversial choice. In a press release Monday morning, BK explained their choice. “What we love about Andy is what he represents as an art icon and his message about the democratization of art,” said Marcelo Pascoa, head of global marketing for BK. “Just like his art, America’s Favorite Burger, the Whopper is for everyone. Our commercial is an invitation for everyone in America to Eat Like Andy.” As for the boring footage, BK explained that “the spot was meant to break through the traditional Super Bowl commercial break, filled with explosions, slapstick jokes and celebrities, with an almost silent, yet powerful work of art.”
Obviously, BK didn’t shoot the footage themselves, as Warhol passed away in 1987. The footage is actually a condensed clip from the 1982 film 66 Scenes From America by Danish director Jorgen Leth. The documentary-like film features scenes from a range of daily American activities, including the whopping (pun intended) four minute scene of Warhol eating a hamburger. BK gained the rights to the footage earlier this year.
The commercial left many viewers confused, which is likely what Warhol would have wanted, as he made a name for himself through his intricate and often-times confusing artwork. Actor Bob Kevoian reacted in frustration to the commercial, asking BK why he should “eat like Andy” when “Andy’s dead.” Meanwhile, Blondie’s frontman Chris Stein joked about how people were probably confused because they didn’t know who Warhol was.
— Bob Kevoian (@bobkevoian) February 4, 2019
— chris stein (@chrissteinplays) February 4, 2019
If anything, though, the ad did clear up some confusing hints BK had posted online prior to the commercial. In a video posted to their Twitter page, a masked man asked BK’s customers to buy a “mystery box” ahead of Sunday’s game. Reports say that those who ordered received a package containing a vintage BK brand paper bag, a white wig resembling Warhol’s hair, a ketchup bottle and a coupon for a free Whopper sandwich from participating Burger King restaurants. So at least the commercial cleared up that mystery.
— Burger King (@BurgerKing) January 24, 2019