6 Fast-Food Commercials That Are So Sexist You’ll Lose Your Burger Craving
Fast-food chains have been burning a lot of bridges recently. This year alone, they’ve refused to pay their employees a living wage, refused to support the farmworkers who supply their produce, and refused to not release videos of creepy guys in lab coats emptying bags of chemicals into industrial vats of meat. Despite McDonald’s “Our Food. Your Questions” transparency campaign, its sales fell 4.6 percent in November.
But that’s not all fast-food restaurants have been up to. They’ve also been targeting the Neanderthal sensibility with incredibly sexist advertisements. It’s no surprise that industries with a disproportionately male clientele use sex to sell their product—53 percent of men eat fast food on a weekly basis, compared with 42 percent of women—but thanks to Carl’s Jr.’s hypersexualized commercials, the practice has become common over the past decade. Here are six of the most egregious examples.
1. Carl’s Jr.—Paris Hilton Washes a Car
This 2005 ad featuring a soapy and scantily clad Paris Hilton inexplicably writhing on top of a Bentley in burger-induced ecstasy was Carl’s Jr.’s launching point for nine years’ worth of mindless, sex-fueled meat peddling. Though the campaign was met with protests and boycotts, its website SpicyParis.com got so much traffic that it crashed the day the commercial aired.
2. Carl’s Jr.—Kate Upton Really, Really Loves Burgers
In 2012, Carl’s Jr. debuted what many consider to be its most sexually explicit commercial, featuring an intimate moment between Kate Upton and a patty melt. The model-actor’s burger is so spicy that it works her into a feral rage, and she starts grinding against the Carl’s Jr. bag that’s, for whatever reason, resting between her legs.
3. Carl’s Jr.—Mystique Has a Gender Identity Crisis
Carl’s Jr. branched out from its nonspecific brand of sexism and male gaze–y female body ogling and started explicitly stating its views on prescribed gender traits in this 2012 collab with the X-Men franchise. The ad shows a female Mystique staring down a burger, then transforming into a bearded man before taking the first bite. The words “Man Up” flash on the screen, but they might as well read “Women are weak and inferior!” Mmm, tastes like trans fats and casual sexism.
4. Subway—Drop That Burger and Pick Up a Negative Body Image Sandwich
Subway often touts its wares as waistline-friendly, and its mid-aughts, non-gender-specific campaign featuring a newly thin Jared Fogle launched a boom of well-deserved sandwich success. But this October 2014 commercial, which Subway removed from its official YouTube page, has a message for women: “Your worth is rooted in being a walking piece of physically fit eye candy, so put down that burger and pick up a sandwich.”
5. Burger King—Overcompensating With Chicken Sandwiches
This Burger King commercial from 2011 is a 30-second penis joke without a punch line. It shows a man on a train holding one of BK’s Long Chicken Sandwiches suspiciously close to his pelvis while a woman stares at him and inexplicably grinds against a pole. When she sees another man holding a smaller, less monstrously phallic chicken sandwich near his crotch, she gets turned off, and the man shies away. According to BK, all women want in a partner is a bigger sandwich—and men who don’t have that are worthy of ridicule and shame. Who better to espouse patriarchal nonsense than the King himself?
6. Hardee’s—Even the Poultry Is Sexist
Hardee’s—Carl’s Jr.’s sibling restaurant—managed to infuse sexism into a commercial with an all-chicken cast. The narrator explains, “Everyone wants the biggest chicken breasts in fast food, and we mean everybody,” which is followed by a shot of roosters riled up in a sexual frenzy while staring at a picture of a giant chicken breast. Get it? They’re breasts, and women’s body parts are compartmentalized objects for men to stare at.