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

You have to wonder what's got into Burger King lately.

Yes, it's always bathed in a slightly more rebellious image: the snorting teenager against the too-good-to-be-true family archetype of McDonald's.

Yet some might think the King is now taking his act a little too far. Some.

Last week, Burger King released Unhappy Meals, in order to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.

It was an uncomfortable juxtaposition of a serious issue and a box containing burger and fries and marked Pissed.

Now, though, the King's marketers have decided to use unhappy children to peddle their Whoppers.

The chain's Spanish arm is featuring a promotion encouraging parents to book clown-free parties.

Oh, a slightly tired sniff at McDonald's creepily avuncular Ronald?

Somehow, I get the feeling Ronald's been semi-retired for a while now, sent to the clown house in the countryside.

But perhaps his association as a logo emeritus is still strong.

Still, who might be upset that Burger King is poking a little fun? Why, any gooey parent who doesn't like to see children upset.

You see, these ads feature images of clowns holding kids who are miserable or crying.

BIRTHDAYS SHOULD BE HAPPY, the ads declare. Just as, presumably, meals should not be.

You might experience a thoughtful reaction to these words uttered by Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King's head of global marketing to Adweek

Burger King knows that birthdays are a very big deal for kids, and we believe they should be fun and clown-free. We prefer to be on the good side of children's memories, not the scary ones, like the traumatized kids in these ads.

So last week, we celebrated traumatized adults.

Today, we want to prevent the traumatization of kids.

Next week, we think we'll say something funny about traumatized old people.

Please, I don't want to wallow in a transcendental debate about how many people are frightened of clowns.

With some ads, you either find them moving or you don't.

I'm willing to confess these ads made me laugh.

But then I'd never think of organizing any sort of party in a burger joint. 

I mean, all those screaming children. Who can bear it?

Published on: May 6, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.