Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I'm used to a little nastiness. 

I'm used to denigration, humiliation and irritation.

I'm talking about advertising, of course.

When it comes to comparison advertising, brands try to get away with anything they can, true or not.

This is especially true of fast-food advertising. 

Wendy's, for example, is positively -- or, depending on your perspective, negatively -- gleeful in its regular spittle-emitting at McDonald's.

Slightly less common, however, is mockery of KFC.

After all, who'd have the nerve to denigrate that sweet, old, gray-haired colonel? Even if, in some of his recent advertising guises, he's seemed a touch, well, twisted.

Undeterred, Burger King took on the task and did it with surprisingly consummate subtlety.

At first, we think it's a KFC ad. 

There's banjo music. There's the colonel's white suit. There's even a voice that sounds blessedly southern.

But then we see that this is the (more than) faintly creepy King from Burger King dressing up like Colonel Sanders.

Is he going to a party? If he is, I wonder what sort of party.

The point is merely to remind you that Burger King flame-grills its chicken instead of frying it or, as KFC now deigns to do, grilling it in some allegedly more healthy way.

Burger King could have chosen to be rude. Nasty, even.

Instead, it presents us with an image that will stay with us for a little too long -- a simple reminder that flame-grilling chicken is, at the very least, going to leave it tasting somewhat different from KFC's fare.

It also presents us with a simple reminder that advertising icons can get away with being astoundingly creepy.

I know subtlety in ads is sometimes frowned upon.

But perhaps the greatest act of side-by-side denigration -- Apple's glorious Get a Mac campaign -- relied on subtle cues to tell you that you really didn't want to be associated with Microsoft ever again.

The casting, the mannerisms, the whole tone wasn't one of aggression.

Instead, there was something almost kind in the way that Apple showed Microsoft -- and its leader at the time, Bill Gates -- to represent faintly pathetic nerddom.

Burger King has done a little of the same here. 

Oh, this Burger King ad may not twist the heads of many KFC eaters and instantly send them away to their nearest repository of flame-grilling.

It might, thought, gently incite the thought-process of considering Burger King's flame-grilled chicken alternative.

KFG rather than KFC? It might become notorious.

Published on: Mar 1, 2019
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