Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our Crumbling Civilization: Flat Buns Edition

You'd think a classic bit of Americana like the patty melt would be beyond the touch of the civilization-slimers who bring everything down to the scuzzy mindset of an 18-year-old male in order to sell more product and make more money.

I can understand dropping "my first lay" to that level, but the patty melt? What next? Apple pie? Oh, they already did that.

The patty melt's fall into society's sewer is brought to us by none other than fast food chain Carl's Jr. (Hardee's in the Eastern U.S.), who not that long ago gave us a minimally dressed Paris Hilton flaunting about in a largely successful effort to get young men to think of Carl's hamburgers when they think of sex ... a pretty compelling marketing strategy, you have to admit.

When Carl's decided to offer patty melts on its menu -- patty melts, by the way, that don't look nearly as good as the one featured here -- they did it with a TV ad called "Schooled" (view here), showcasing a too-hot for this planet high school teacher who slithers about in a slinky gray suit while a couple boys in the class rap:
Well, I like 'em really hot
I like 'em really flat

I like 'em lookin' like a pancake stack
What about hiney? Got no hiney?

I call you Your Hineness.

In anatomy class

You got butt minus.

Flatness makes a better rear

Stand sideways, girl, you disappear.

Flat buns.
I like flat buns.

I like the flat ones.
The scene cuts to a patty melt with a more mature male voiceover: The patty melt. On flat buns. Only from Carl's Jr.

Patty melts are not, of course, "only from Carl's Jr." The only thing that's only from Carl's Jr. is the raucously in your face flaunting of the old "sex sells" paradigm of advertising, and a willingness to further degrade the American morality in the name of "creative advertising."

This commercial would have been un-runable a few decades ago, but it wouldn't have been unthinkable. I've been in plenty of creative sessions where someone would throw out an idea so tasteless, racist or sexually over the top that it would get a laugh or a groan, but never a thought to really go with it. Heck, most of the time we'd be so embarrassed by the mere thought of having to admit we could come up with such an idea that we wouldn't even share it with our clients.

Now it seems that the more outrageous the idea, the more likely the ad agency (in this case, Mendelsohn|Zien) is to run it ... and not just run it, but run it as if it were significant in some way other than that bothersome "complete breakdown of civilization" way. Really; the folks at Carl's thought the ad so important they issued a news release on it (via Nexis, so no link):
"The Patty Melt is an American classic but the burger has been around for almost 60 years and, thus, it needed an image make-over to become more relevant for today's fast-food consumers," said Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Carl's Jr. restaurants.

"So, our advertising agency developed a rap song to emphasize one of the unique aspects of the burger: the use of flat, grilled rye bread as opposed to the traditional round-top bun. That rap song, which originally ran as a radio spot for our Hardee's chain, became so popular with the public - even spawning related websites and YouTube spoofs - that we decided to make it into a music video TV commercial for the burger to run at both chains. Who knows? This may help give flat buns the respect and admiration they have been missing for all these years."
To help that possible trend along, and to keep digging this civilization hell-hole deeper, Carl's kindly provides a list of the hottest flat-bunned celebs. Most of them are meaningless Hollywood people, but you'll be interested to know that Hillary comes in seventh on the female side (large thighs and flat buns ... is that the anatomy we want in our president?), and Rudy seventh and Obama tenth on the male side (are Obama's buns too flat to be the first black president?).

Sigh. As much as I'd like it if sex didn't sell, and we lived instead in a world where a clever headline, beautiful copy and tasteful art was what drew people to buy products, I have to admit that ever since they started illustrating the Grecian urns to sell more olive oil, sex has been a big part of the marketing mix.

But really, has it become too much? Has it come down to this?

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