BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Burger King Modify Advertising To Stress Product Over Premium

New York, NY – May 4, 2011 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Burger King modify broadcast advertising to assure that the depiction of food, rather than the depiction of the premium offered with a children’s meal, is primary.

The advertising at issue opened with one shot of a meal that included a burger, apple fries, and a juice box on a stage as a child’s voice stated “BK Kids Meal presents…Look What I Can Do!” 

The commercial then featured two boys using fake voices and their hands to pretend that they were Spongebob Squarepants characters – the premium available with the meal – and closed with a final shot of the meal. This case presented CARU with the issue of whether a child-directed commercial for a product with a promotional tie-in featured the premium more prominently than the product.

CARU guidelines state that advertising that contains a premium message should focus the child’s attention primarily on the product and make the premium message clearly secondary. Following its review, CARU determined that in this case, the premium message was primary and the product secondary.

In reaching its determination, CARU noted that although the first and last shots depicted a BK Kids Meal, the rest of the commercial largely focused on the Spongebob toys. 

CARU considered but was not persuaded by the advertiser’s argument that CARU had previously approved the storyboard in connection with this commercial, and that the placement and depiction of both the food items and the toy premiums remained consistent with the storyboard CARU approved. 

CARU noted in its decision that it approved a storyboard that depicted five frames featuring food, while the final commercial showed food in only two brief shots at the beginning and end of the commercial. CARU recommended the advertiser modify the advertising at issue.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it disagreed with CARU’s determination, it “nevertheless is committed to industry self-regulation and the CARU process and will work to ensure that all of its future children’s advertising complies fully with the CARU Guidelines.”