Burger King ad outrages Hindus

July 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A whopper of a controversy is surrounding fast food giant Burger King. Its new ad campaign is seen as beyond tasteless to Hindus around the world.

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When Hindus in Spain saw their latest ad in a Burger King window, they were outraged.

"It shows insensitivity by Burger King to show meat with something that is very sacred to Hinduism which is Goddess Lakshmi," says Mihir Meghani, president of the Hindu American Foundation.

The Hindu goddess of wealth is sitting on top of a sandwich with the caption: "A snack that is sacred."

Most Hindus are vegetarian. Now the national group, Hindu American Foundation, is pressuring Burger King to pull its ads. In fact, the group's president thinks all Americans should be outraged.

"Most of Burger King's customers are American so there's a responsibility we all have as Americans to deal with American corporations in a way that's appropriate," says Meghani.

Hindus throughout the Bay Area aren't taking the ad lightly either.

"Any Hindu that sees this one is going to feel bad," says Gudawar Singh from Hayward.

"I don't think anybody considers this a good thing," says Kiran Kamineni from Fremont.

But the agency that came up with the ad did. According to Golden Gate University's marketing Professor Michal Strahilevitz, Burger King had a mission.

"It does break through the clutter, then you look at it, and it makes you pay attention. So I think their desire was to break through the clutter to be different," says Professor Strahilevitz.

Still, Professor Strahilevitz thinks Burger King should pull the ad simply because it's offensive. Burger King customers agree.

"I would take offense to that even though I'm not from that religion," says Gina Quidachay from Oakland.

"I would think they shouldn't have that ad," says Joe Saccomanno from Hayward.

Burger King issued this response:

Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support a limited-time only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone. Out of respect for the Hindu community, the in-store advertisement has been removed from the restaurants.

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