American football fanatics and those who tune into the Super Bowl each year simply to watch the ads witnessed a Burger King advertisement unlike any other. The 45 second window didn’t feature the comedy skits synonymous with Doritos, Clydesdales and Dalmatians like Budweiser, or scantily clad women associated with the fast food chain Hardee’s. Instead, viewers were suddenly face-to-face with white-haired Andy Warhol…eating a Whopper. Burger King took a gamble with its unusual take on coveted ad space during the National Football League’s biggest game of the year in which ad spaces sell for millions. However, it seems to have paid off and it’s had people asking why and how the ad came about.
The ad also left people asking if that was really Andy Warhol. Well, it really is the famous Pop artist. The clip was taken straight from a 1982 film by Jørgen Leth titled ’66 Scenes from America.’ The original clip, entitled ‘Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger’, is four minutes and 38 seconds of Warhol simply eating a Burger King Whopper and nothing else. Watching the entire clip, you wait wondering if Warhol will speak but in his own true fashion, he continues eating deadpan looking at the camera from time to time. A tone of voyeurism creeps in like you’re staring at someone doing something that you’re not really meant to see. At the end, Warhol speaks the only sentence of the film saying ‘My name is Andy Warhol, and I just finished eating a hamburger.’
As for the why, in a statement Burger King’s global chief marketing officer Fernando Machado recalled ‘I still remember the first time I watched the complete length of the film of Andy Warhol eating a Burger King Whopper, and my head exploded […] I was like “Is that really Andy Warhol; why is eating that? What’s happening there?’ Just a few years after Machado viewed the surprising video, he, together with the David Miami agency, secured the rights to use ‘Andy Warhol Eating a Burger’ for their experimental Super Bowl ad.
‘One of the things that was unique about the negotiation was that we didn’t want to change or touch the film in any way that would take away from its original intent,’ says BK’s global head of brand marketing Marcelo Pascoa. ‘We knew that the best thing we could do would be to keep the film as intact as we could.’
The ad is destined to garner a lot of interest in the artist, if only to find out the story behind the seemingly odd video. Currently, the video clip is also featured at the Whitney Museum as part of a Warhol retrospective called ‘Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back again.’ It also sparked a little comical Twitter sparring between McDonald’s and Burger King when McDonald’s pointed out that Warhol actually asked for one of their burgers but ultimately ended up with a Whopper. To which, Burger King tweeted ‘it doesn’t matter who you flirt with, it matters who you take home.’
‘We believe that it’s kind of cool that he did a lot of art that looked like advertising and that we are using his art to advertise,’ says Machado. ‘It’s like a silent assassin in the clutter of the Super Bowl.’