Burger King upsets Mexico.
The ambassador of Mexico in Spain issued a formal protest to Burger King after the airing of a TV commercial in Spain.
He said that the commercial: “improperly used the stereotypical image of Mexicans” to promote the Texican, a flame-grilled Whopper topped with taco-coated chilli con carne and spicy jalapenos.
The Texican is described in the commercial as “the taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican”.
It shows a tall Texan cowboy living with a short Mexican wrestler. The print ad version shows the short wrestler wearing the Mexican flag as a cloak (disrespect to the Mexican flag is considered an offense in Mexico).
The Ambassador Jorge Zermeño asked Burger King to pull the ad and also apologise for offending Mexican cuisine.
Behind the news
Although often distasteful, stereotyping of nationalities is nothing new in advertising and can be used to good commercial effect as “shorthand”.
In the case of “reverse import” business however, stereotyping must be systematically avoided, as it almost guarantees outrage, failure and ridicule.
Reverse import is the export from a country of origin and import back of a foreign adapted version.
– TexMex in Mexico (or by extension, Latino-friendly Spain)
– An American Pizza chain in Italy
– A California Sushi concept in Japan
– An Arabic designed Chinese food chain in China
Reverse import can be surprisingly successful. By showing an appreciation of the culture to which a brand is marketing back to, it subtly flatters the local audience (“we are so good, the Americans / Arabs / British have imitated us!”).On the other hand, ridiculing the very people who invented the original food is a recipe for rejection.