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Bouncing the Burger King girls

Two of Burger King’s three-part ‘BK Girls’ campaign have been crossed off the media schedule, and for many, it ain’t a case of two out of three ain’t bad.

An N Strathmore was “shocked by what she saw”, while watching Home and Away with her three-year-old daughter in April. “What message are they sending to the young men and women of today?” she dashed off to the Advertising Standards Authority. “That it is okay to sexually and provocatively flaunt yourself semi-naked in public while buying a burger???” Well yes, that’s exactly what the Home and Away kids have been doing in the Summer Bay Diner for the past 20 years.

Silly me. Turns out, N. was actually complaining about the bikini-clad ad sandwiched in between the bikini-clad programme. After careful consideration, the ASA came to her party, pulling ‘Meet the Girls’ along with its three-in-a-bed partner, ‘Sharing’ on account of the ads “... using sexual appeal simply to draw attention to an unrelated product”.

It was a sad day for the ‘Hungry Young Male’, defined by BK advertising agency Y&R as any 16 to 35-year-old who doesn’t have breasts. And therein lies the problem—not that the Burger King target market don’t have bouncy bits, but that the BK Girls featured in those ads most certainly do.

“I don’t feel at [my daughter’s] age I should be explaining to her what three young women are doing riding horse back semi-naked and letting everything giggle [sic] all about,” N’s complaint went on.

Here the ASA disagreed. While the ‘giggling’ was ruled unacceptable in “settings like an office, a laboratory and at a presentation ceremony—as well as on horse-back at a burger outlet,” the three-on-a horse-back scenario was acceptable when played out on the “natural setting” of a beach. It seemed Tip Top got it right when they stated ‘budgie smugglers’ were simply togs anywhere near sand and simply obscene anywhere else.

Or maybe not. It seems there’s a whole different set of rules when referring to the media’s portrayal of male bits. The Mentos ‘nipples’ Ice ad, which the ASA has cited as one of its top ten most complained about ads remains onscreen for Hungry Young Female consumption. Hilary Souter, ASA’s executive director, says this spot was held up against “generally prevailing community standards”—namely, if it’s a man with his gear off no one gives a stuff. If you haven’t seen the ad featuring a man with grotesquely protruding nipples, tune into Home and Away tomorrow.

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