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  • Farrah Newberry

Burger King Ad Portrayed Cattle Producers as Joke

The fast food chain hopes new marketing campaign will appeal to the socially conscious generation.

Last week, Burger King launched an outrageous commercial highlighting their efforts to lower methane emissions from cows by adding lemongrass to their diets. The two minute, misguiding commercial (view here) features a yodeling young man donning a gas mask and several cliche connotations of farming. It immediately received backlash from the Ag community, including posts from Michelle Miller, known online as the Farm Babe.

Following the release of the ad, Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, shared their commissioned report online that maps out their initiative to lower methane emissions from cattle sourced for their food. It's a noble effort and one that could be applicable to farming if proven as effective, feasible and backed by strong research.

While I applaud Burger King's effort to seek "scalable solutions to tackle the climate impact of the food we produce", I am disappointed by their depiction of our industry and cattle farmers. After watching the video, I had three questions for Burger King executives: Why did they they use yodeling, gas mask wearing children to share their message? Why did they depict the farmer as older and uneducated? Why didn't they share what farmers are already doing to decrease carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050?

Farmers and ranchers are committed to remain good stewards of the land and according to the EPA, livestock account for just over 2.5 percent of total U.S. Greenhouse Gas (ghg) emissions. Data shows that producing a gallon of milk in 2017 required 30% less water and 21% less land and had a 19% smaller carbon footprint than it did in 2007. Its amazing effort and dairy farmers are progressively leading the charge to build a better world for future generations.

After receiving heavy backlash, Burger King has removed the elevator scene with the "farmer" in their commercial on Youtube. In an AgDairy interview with Michelle Miller , BK's Chief Marketing Officer, Fernando Machado, admitted that he felt sad for making [farmers] feel that way. He said that they had no idea they would receive such backlash and that it was not at all their intention.

As our industry moves forward to provide products for the socially conscious consumer, we must work with our retailers to develop a message that includes facts, sound research and real farmers. Consumers are confused on how their food is produced, where it is sourced and how it will impact the environment. Ad campaigns like Burger King's only compound the problem and spread propaganda that puts farmers out of business and hurts consumers in the long run.

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