Burger King Apologizes for Hindu Goddess Ad

Last Updated Jul 9, 2009 2:59 PM EDT

Burger King has apologized for a print ad depicting the Hindu goddess Lakshmi sitting on top of a meat sandwich under words that translated, "Snack is sacred." The ad only ran locally to promote a few stores in Spain, but the company has withdrawn the poster in response to letters from Hindu groups, who were angry that Burger King would use a sacred religious figure as a promotional device.

Ad controversy is nothing new for Burger King; in fact, the chain seems to attract more attention with its ads than it does with its burgers.

But it's rare that the chain apologizes. The latest scandal was over a Singapore ad for the "Super Seven Incher" with an open-mouthed woman, a long sandwich, and the phrase "It'll blow your mind away." The sexual allusion was about as subtle as a hammer to the back of the head.

Despite widespread criticism Burger King did not apologize or retract the ad. Instead it replied with the statement, "Burger King Corp. values and respects all of its guests. This print ad is running to support a limited time promotion in the Singapore market and is not running in the U.S. or any other markets. The campaign is supported by the franchisee in Singapore and has generated positive consumer sales around this limited time product offer in that market."

The company also stood firm on its "Whopper Virgin" campaign, which featured people from remote areas trying fast food hamburgers for the first time, and on its "I like Square Butts" ad. And the Facebook Whopper Sacrifice application was canceled by Facebook, not by the burger chain.

But it seems Burger King draws a distinction between ads that are generically offensive and ads that target a specific group. Or maybe there's just something about Spain. The other apology Burger King issued recently was for an ad there for the Texican Whopper -- an ad that inspired a letter from the Mexican ambassador to Spain, who said the ad "improperly used the stereotypical image of Mexicans."

Related stories on BNET Food:
SpongeBob and Square Butts: Yet Another Controversial Burger King Ad Does Burger King's Facebook 'Whopper Sacrifice' Go Too Far?

Related stories on BNET Advertising:
Burger King's Apology for Hindu Goddess Ad Not the First of Its Kind
  • Katherine Glover

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