Burger King recently began an advertising campaign where they supposedly found isolated communities around the world who had never heard of a hamburger, and then got people to do a taste test and say Burger King’s “Whoppers” were the best.
You might reasonably ask, “What does this have to do with English Language Learners?”
Well, one of these offensive ads (which are drawing criticism from many corners) features Hmong villagers in Thailand. Regular readers of this blog know that many English Language Learners at our school are Hmong refugees.
The ad is available on YouTube which, of course, is blocked by most schools. However, I will be uploading it it to Edublogs TV later this week when they’re done upgrading the site, and you will be able to view it there.
Here is a blog post from the Wall Street Journal about the ad, which includes a letter written by a Hmong-American.
Here is an excerpt from a comment made on a Hmong chatboard about the ad:
Perhaps, any exposure is better than some exposure, but aside from
that, this commercial has absolutely nothing for Hmong people to feel
proud about. The producers of the commercial went around the world
looking for the most archaic civilizations in existence, and found the
Hmong living in Chang Mai. This series of commercials by BK are not
intended to highlight the cultural uniqueness of these so called
“whopper virgins.” Instead, these commercials paint these cultures as
primitive and out of touch from the modern world. While there is
something to be said about, and perhaps even be proud of, a culture’s
ability to remain autonomous despite the encroaching world, that is
not the aim of these commercials.
Agencies fighting world hunger have also criticized the ad.
I’ll be having my students watch it — without first giving them my opinion. It’ll be interesting to get their reactions — both before and after reading some of the critiques of the ad.
By the way, in searching for information about the ad today, I found that The English Blog had written about it last week, and I must have just missed it.