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Angus Diet

13 Aug 2004 by Matthew Linderman

Am I the only one who thinks Burger King’s new Angus Diet campaign is out of whack? Yeah, it’s stupid as all get out but that’s not the point. What irks me is how many people out there aren’t going to get the joke. Let’s face it, a lot of BK customers aren’t the best at deconstructing pop culture.

Think about it from the POV of a not-so-savvy consumer (or kid) who turns on the tv and sees an ad with a “doctor” telling him/her to go to BK and eat hamburgers as part of a new “diet” that sounds an awful lot like the Atkins diet. These televised spots don’t ever mention that eating Angus burgers is actually pretty damn unhealthy.

The weasels behind it do offer a weak justification for their use of the term diet, but bury it in a PDF at the site that no one will actually read:

Now you’re probably saying to yourself “Hang on, if The Angus Diet is not a real diet, then where does this quack get off calling this book Eating The Angus Diet?” Easy, Cheetah. Allow me to explain. I call it a “diet” because if you look in most any dictionary (under D) you’ll find the following. Take it away, Mr. Definition: Diet (diet) n. 1. a) What a person or animal usually eats and drinks; daily fare. See that? Technically, a “diet” is what you eat. So if you eat The Angus Steak Burger, you’re on The Angus Diet.

Ugh. Maybe if this was even in the least bit funny I’d have less of a problem with it. But it all strikes me as predatory and creepy since a lot of naive folks will probably just eat it up. If you think I’m overreacting, I suggest a read of “Fast Food Nation” to get some insight into the true mentality of this industry.

53 comments so far (Post a Comment)

13 Aug 2004 | Greg Hoy said...

Actually, these ads do now run a disclaimer saying the Angus Diet is not a real diet. Still a stupid idea though.

13 Aug 2004 | One of several Steves said...

I've read "Fast Food Nation." And I still think you're overreacting. A lot. I haven't seen the spots yet, but from the web site, it was obvious to me pretty much instantly that this isn't real.

13 Aug 2004 | Scorched said...

So they aren't going to give us the Angus Shake, and some Angus Meat Strip Fries? Because that would have been a complete meal, right? I for one can hardly imagine eating a meal without bovine antibiotics, cow hormones, and lots of fat and grissle!
oh wait, no, that actually sounds like a bad idea... *goes back to eating blueberries*

13 Aug 2004 | Colin D. Devroe said...

Who cares? The kids, or even adults, that think this diet is "for real" are probably already fat, and should know what made them fat to begin with - Burger King food.

It's not the Angus burger, it's the supersized Fries, drink, apple pie, Ice cream, and the second Angus burger which is at fault.

13 Aug 2004 | dm said...

Hrm, maybe I can go on a 30 day Angus diet, get incredibly bloated, document it as a movie, be the shining star of the film fest circuit and make a lot of money.

13 Aug 2004 | Zelnox said...

I found the ad funny. Haha. ^_^

Probably some will be mislead though.

13 Aug 2004 | Jamie said...

What's up with Burger King these days? First a guy in a chicken suit website. Then a bag designer website. Then this. They must have some way-too-hip web designers working on their account.

13 Aug 2004 | Joe said...

I wouldn't worry about it too much. A single Angus burger will quickly put you off the "Angus Diet", even if you think it's real.

I tried one of these atrocities the other day. Here's the deal. It's your basic BK burger, but the beef has a slightly different texture, and is infused with some mystery juice that's supposed to make it taste like steak. It doesn't. It tastes like a hint of A1 with that test tube aftertaste that everybody loves. About an hour after you finish the thing, you realize that your hands still smell like "steak", and you feel greasy to boot. The mystery juice sticks with you, and you smell nasty all afternoon. Thanks, BK.

So I guess the Angus diet could really work: Tell yourself you can only eat Angus burgers. You'll hate them so much that you'll avoid eating until you're half-starved, so you should be able to lose some weight (probably even some hair) that way.

13 Aug 2004 | indi said...

I haven't seen the commercials, but the web site is hilarious. I particularly like what they did with the Dr. Angus Interventions.

As far as who gets the joke, I think it would be a sad day when humor is only aimed at the lowest common denominator.

13 Aug 2004 | Scott said...

I am more bothered by companies like Arby's that come out with "Market Fresh" sandwiches that have ridiculous amounts of fat. You have to try hard to get a BLT to contain 46 grams of fat, but somehow, they did. And they are offering it because they know BLT is percieved as healtier.

While a few might miss the sarcasm of the Angus diet, many more will miss that what looks and sounds like a healthier sandwich (vs. a greasy hamburger) is instead one of the worst fast food items out there.

I dislike the Angus diet as well, but at least it's not quite as subversive as many of the other campaigns.

13 Aug 2004 | Al Abut said...

I would have thought that these ads would be clear parodies, but after watching Super Size Me and seeing that heartbreaking scene of the fat girl who's forlorn because she can't afford to eat at Subway all the time "like Jared recommends in his commercials," I think people are more susceptible than you might normally think. Yeah yeah, free will and all that, but media saturation can work its will while people aren't paying attention.

And don't think for a minute that the BK people didn't know what they were doing when they went down this road. I'm sure they figured that any mixups of people walking through their doors for the wrong reason could only be gravy on top of all the others they wanted to woo with comedy, erring on the side of extra sales due to misunderstanding, not less.

13 Aug 2004 | Greg Hoy said...

There was an article I read in Biz 2.0 a couple of months back about the Miami-based ad agency that is responsible for the BK ads:

--------------------

"Welcome to advertising as practiced by the agency of the moment. Crispin Porter & Bogusky is as hot as South Beach on a Saturday night, having snapped up every top advertising creative award lately while reeling in prime accounts including Mini cars, Ikea furniture stores, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and most recently Burger King -- a $300 million-plus new-business bombshell that was quietly wrapped up the morning CPB was pelting Virgin with ideas."

"The Burger King account is unlike any the agency has dealt with: bigger, more bureaucratic, and downright nastier. Burger King has fired five agencies in the past four years, earning a reputation as a client that won't let its ad partners produce good work and then blames them for the results. "When I heard about CPB winning the Burger King account," one Madison Avenue executive says, "I felt a little sad for them."

Burger King, which has been losing market share, is looking to CPB to find "a holistic way to connect with our core consumers to build a strong, consistent brand message," says chief executive Bradley Blum. CPB's Hicks says, "They've come to us for help with everything, not just commercials. We're now redesigning anything we can get our hands on." That includes signage (CPB plans to post a customer "Bill of Rights"), drive-through areas, employee uniforms, even ketchup packets. CPB has brought back the company's 1970s theme "Have It Your Way," and its first TV campaign hits that unique brand attribute hard. In the ads -- done in the deadpan style of the hit (and hip) British comedy The Office -- workers compete to order the coolest customized hamburgers."

14 Aug 2004 | James said...

I agree completely, and I blame Jonathan Swift. After all, it was his successful campaign to trick people into accepting cannibalism which undoubtedly inspired the disgusting marketing pigs at Burger King to do this.

In fact, it's so dangerous that I'm going to write Tom Ridge and suggest the national Satire Alert level be raised to Orange.

14 Aug 2004 | mark rushwoorth said...

yeah my customers *plug*www.scottwatson.co.uk and www.summitconsultants.co.uk arent too impressed.

14 Aug 2004 | dalager said...

I just read "angus dei" - lamb of god.
A rather misleading product name I think...

14 Aug 2004 | Don Schenck said...

Wait until all you suckers that have fallen for the Low-Carb diet wake up someday. Sheesh.

Americans are the only people that think they can eat their way out of obesity. How about Thursday night roller hockey instead?

Sheep.

14 Aug 2004 | Tomas said...

Just to inform you. I just visited the site. The (Angus) guy is a comedian from the United Kingdom. His name is Harry Enfield. He's quite funny. This must be his next show or something.

Another one of these sites that doesn't say its fake. Like the iRobot and the "Eternal Sunshine..." sites.

14 Aug 2004 | Benjyq said...

When they change from "Flame Broiled" to "Fire Grilled?"

15 Aug 2004 | Lance Osborne said...

Those new BK commercials with the guy wearing the plastic Burger King mask (who shows up in back seat of a car) scare the hell out of me.

15 Aug 2004 | MH said...

> Let’s face it, a lot of BK customers aren’t the best at deconstructing pop culture.

I'm a BK customer. Could you elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion? Is it BK customers in particular, or some wider demographic that you have in mind? Where does the enlightened fast-food craver dine? :-)

15 Aug 2004 | pj o'ramadan said...

I think they are funny as hell. Maybe those dumb enough to go on an Angus diet deserve to live in gastrointestinal hell for as long as the as runs.

15 Aug 2004 | plus sized queen said...

Maybe this will amass a whole new generation of fatties to do my bidding... Fatties of the world unite!!!

16 Aug 2004 | Gavin A Simmons said...

Boy, it is quite clear that the commercials are a satire of modern "diet culture." I think think they are hilarious. They remind me of all those diet and get rich quick infomercials I see in my late night tv habbits. I especially love the newest spots where he's involved with all those healthy activities like karate and alligator restling, which clearly have nothing to do with BurgerKing, Angus, Beef, or eating. Much like many diets where results are actully dependent on the other activities of the person who lost all the wait. Why was he driving the Aston Martin? And anyone notice his sterotypical MA accent? Why is is lifestyle so hip? Why are people at his events echoing or, more or less, chanting his words? Hilarious.

16 Aug 2004 | ar said...

I always laugh at the part where he is hugging baby llama (or maybe it's a vicuna).

16 Aug 2004 | Brian Honey said...

I agree wholeheartedly... the Dr. Angus ads are just plain bad. But maybe that was intended, as the Angus burgers are themselves just plain bad.

Sure, it's a big burger, and you get a lot of meat with it.... but the meat doesn't taste or feel like meat, more like reshaped cat food. Not that I have any experience on which to base that...

BTW, I am in no way connected to Hardee's, which, while actually having a good-tasting sandwich in the "ThickBurger," also produces exceedingly lame TV ads.

16 Aug 2004 | Jessie said...

i think the commercials are hysterical
im only 14 and i figured out that it was fake the first few seconds i watched the first comercial about it, my dads the one who was confused about it , he was like "is it really a diet", and im like "duh dad its a joke" people are so dumb

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Eateries range from drive-through to gourmet. Among the choices are several innovative health-conscious restaurant chains, beachside and open air venues, vegetarian street carts, all-vegetarian hospital and university cafeterias, ethnic restaurants that specialize in vegetarian or organic fare, clubs and pubs featuring vegetarian/natural food, a vegetarian wine bar and haute cuisine "tasting menus." Many eateries have comments by a growing network of "HH Tripsters" - volunteers who add descriptive personal content to the listing.

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17 Aug 2004 | Darrel said...

How about Thursday night roller hockey instead?

Hey Don! How's that working for you? We do the Monday night instead. Now that we've 'upgraded' to indoor concrete the road-rash incidents have dropped drastically.

I kind of agree with you. Sweating seems like a better way to loose weight than eating pork rinds.

17 Aug 2004 | Darrel said...

Anyone here familiar with Culvers? It's a highly succesful fast food chain in the Midwest. I like them because a) they're food tastes good and b) they do absolutely nothing to pretend that their food is anything other than what it is: butter burgers and custard. No low-carb/market fresh/healthier alternative crap. Just butter burgers and custard.

And yea, you need to play a lot of hockey to make up for one of those. ;O)

17 Aug 2004 | Tired Of The Hype said...

I am so tired of the "low carb" hype I have been inundated with that I find it refreshing to see this series of spoof ads. And if anyone is so stupid that they can't see this as the joke it is intended to be, and also can't read the disclaimers, they deserve what they get. This taking people by the hand and leading them through life has to stop somewhere. When people sue Burger King and McDonald's for "making then fat", the line needs to be drawn. The courts should have smacked them in the back of the head for wasting its time and told them to go home and eat a carrot. As for kids seeing the ads and running out and stuffing themselves with "bad" food, it's on the parents, not Burger King. I just want to know where these people get all the money to eat at BK all the time...

18 Aug 2004 | Don Schenck said...

Amen, amen, amen!

20 Aug 2004 | Tim Clawson said...

The commercial is aimed at defying the standard social attitude towards the latest low-carbohydrate nutrition fad. Has there ever been a more famous "dietician" than Dr. Atkins. People worship this guy like they're brainwashed and that is exactly what this commercial is satiring. Look at the overwhelming consumer response to this diet. Restaurants like Subway offer trademark "Atkins Friendly" subs and many items in the grocery store tout themselves as low-carb or carb-friendly. Frankly, I find the commercial refreshing because it strikes a chord deep within me that resounds complete and utter agreement.

22 Aug 2004 | Some One said...

I would like to say that the Angus Diet Commercials ore the most obnoxis thing I have seen. I just want to reach in and pull that guy out of the TV and twist his toothy head off and kick it down the street like a soccer ball. All day long, just kick, kick. kick. I realy get irritated every time I see it. I even switch to another show to avoid listning to it. It is like fingernails on the chalkboard. Someone, MAKE IT STOP.

thank you

me

22 Aug 2004 | ZeroCool said...

Hmmm... now they are selling a book for 29.95$ .. when does it stop !

23 Aug 2004 | ZetaFive said...

The angus diet is not a real diet? Man, I am really glad they told me that on the bottom of the screen because I am so stupid that I believed that I could actually eat only beef and I would lose weight. I realize that I'm probably a tiny bit smarter than some people out there, but if ANYONE over the age of 5 who would actually believe the ad, sans the disclaimer, it would make me look like a superhuman genious, and I'm pretty sure that isn't the case.

The commercial is funny- it's picking on the Atkins craze that will ultimately prove to be unhealthy by someone or other and will die out for some other low-something else craze. I liked it. I encourage more "advertising people" to pick on the stupid things we as Americans tend to do in our groupd mentality.

Eat a hamburger.

27 Aug 2004 | JoeTie said...

I too am pretty horified by it. I think it's working on three angles
1. Banking on people who'll fall for the diet angle, in spite of the disclaimers. I don't mind this so much. If someone is that gullable, things like that are going to happen.

2. I think the main angle is working on a subliminal level. Someone goes to burger king, perhaps someone scared away from McDonalds by Supersize Me but who dosen't get the point of it. They look on the menu, and there's an unconcious association betwean health and angus.

3. And I can't help but think a lot of it just comes down to trying to discourage people actually trying to lose weight and get away from the fast food lifestyle. Attempting to make them feel that losing weight is just a pointless endevor, that they're being a cultlike figure for caving in after time and time again being called fat, and that they're doing nothing but sucking the fun out of their lives by not eating fast food. This is the only group I really feel sorry for. Eating is one of the single most basic biological urges, and it can't be easy for most people trying to cut down how much they're taking in. Especially when their tastes have become accustomed to eating this kind of crap rather than real food. Mocking an attempt to get away from it, to me, seems a bit like having a beer commercial featuring an AA meeting in which everyone gives up and has a wonderful life after returning to alcohol.

27 Aug 2004 | chuckles said...

maybe you're not the one getting the joke if you're getting pissed off about a SPOOF

28 Aug 2004 | TheAngus said...

It's a lampoon. They're marketing to their demographic (imagine that!)! They know their core business is NOT whiny health nuts like myself, but people who don't give a damn about the 1200 calories in their Whopper (they're a lot of them). Not saying I agree with obesity or fast food culture in the US, but at the same time, everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit. They want to eat it, damn the torpedos.

Let them. And let me chomp on my lean chicken breasts and protein shakes. Let BK market to them, they're a business and they want to make money. They know how.

29 Aug 2004 | Lee said...

Yeah, you really need to take a chill pill. Burger King is genius i think. People will do two things in my eyes, get the joke, and say what the hell, and then eat the Angus, or, say, 'really, it's a diet?' and then still eat the sandwhich. Bugerking is eating off of our countries stupidity and i applaud them. they deserve the millions they make. Not too long ago BK introduced to the world the Low-carb menu (heck, who hasn't). It's really quite simple. Take any sandwhich on the buger king menu. want it low carb? simple! give burger king 1.50-2.00 dollars more(no joke) and we will take the bun, and any sauce off of the sandwhich. I worked at burger king for about two years, and it's amazing how many people order a "king size double whopper w/cheese and bacon meal".....oh wait, can i have that with a diet coke and make that low carb....cause im on a diet.....

i forgot what my point was.....damn....

29 Aug 2004 | Paul T Horgan said...

The Angus Diet ads are performed by veteran British character impersonator and comedian Harry Enfield. In addition there are prominent subtitles on the advert stating quite clearly that Dr Angus is not a real doctor and the the Angus Diet is not a real diet. Given that Television is mainly a medium for disseminating fiction, it is hightly probable that most viewers will be capable of viewing it as such.

01 Sep 2004 | Kevin said...

Dude, you are idiot, and you are definitely overreacting. All a person has to hear is Angus Diet and figure out it is not real. Not only that, but you realize it is fake therefore why do you care if someone else doesn't get it.

01 Sep 2004 | corey said...

There has to be some kind of reason why BK would spen so much money on 2-5 commercials that supposedly "dont make sense." I mean, you guys actually think they would spend millions just to make people giggle for a second? No they either
a)want stupid to believe it to get there money
b)want stupid people to think there funny, so they will buy it
c)they actually think that the a hardly funny prank will make people say, "hey, you know what? That commercial was so creative, and funny...the way it makes fun of other diets, that i just might go eat an angus burger. Yea, ill just give these dumbasses my money to make more dumb commercials."

Heres a diet, you listening? this will make billions BK... a no fast food diet.

03 Sep 2004 | Doctor Agnes said...

The reaction to this is really amusing in light of the fact that the Angus Buger with bacon and cheese is the Adkins Diet to the letter. The comments about bloating etc. are as much a reaction to Adkins as they are to Angus. It's easy to see the absurdity and lack of nutritional value when you take the Adkins diet , call it the Angus diet and proceed to question the sanity of the originator. If something is well advertised and promoted cleverly, the public will eat it up whether it's Angus or Adkins. I'm Doctor Agnes- RESPECT THE ANGUS!

03 Sep 2004 | Hyde said...

What happened to the fruits, vegetables like potatoes, oatmeal with skim milk, skinned chicken, lean meats, juices, etc. as part of a meal? That's where the real energy is at. Sure, it may taste different, but we're very spoiled people. Our bodies need lot's of protein for muscle growth, many carbs for replenishment, fiber for staying healthy, and I haven't even started writing about vitamins which keep us going. We are a malnutritioned (yes, that's correct) society in terms of these essential nurtients and are only stuffing ourselves with junk like saturated fats, enough sodium to make our heads pop, and as much cholesterol to slow down a river with all the eggs we eat. If one of us "regulars" made a chart of all we eat and added up all the labels, you would see where I am going with this. If you're hungry, be creative and add just as many plants to your plate as there is meat. This should be enough to make anybody full and you don't even have to give up your favorite foods. It seems that the only place that we can find these foods publicly is at a college cafeteria. Sad and very sad but not as bad as the person buying 6 small bags of chips for lunch. The FDA really needs to start heavily taxing these lard suppliers instead of raising our health care costs or they should even make a nightly television show to inform us about health instead of showing crap like infomercials. It seems like they really don't care about anything but sticking worthless labels that no one reads on foods and this is not the way to increase longetivity if they even want this to happen. So for now, maybe the internet is the only place to educate ourselves about nutrition, food, diet, or whatever you want to call it...my four cents. Take care and stay healthy. -Hyde

04 Sep 2004 | Camille Lamb said...

Despite my better judgment, I find myself wondering where they found the perfect tanned, tooth-bleached infomercial robot to do these ads. It's not the spoof commercial that bothers me so much as the fact that they're actually selling a BOOK? By calling 1-800-EAT-ANGUS you can actually buy a book called The Angus Diet, for $30! Does anyone know what the deal is with THAT?

04 Sep 2004 | fauchus said...

of course, nobody seems to be noticing the fact that the ad never claims to do anything. It never claims to help you lose weight, it never claims to make you more popular. It makes no claims at all!

Anyone foolish enough to assume that an ad that says only that it "aims to find pleasure" will in some way be associated with weight loss is a fool. The ad doesn't even claim that you will actually find pleasure. It only implies that you might find it by eating a cheeseburger.

Overreaction is great.

05 Sep 2004 | fauchus said...

oh yes, camille lamb, go ahead and call 1-866-eatangus. It's really quite funny. And no, you can't actually buy the book. the web site won't let you, and all the phone number does is make fun of you for trying.

05 Sep 2004 | Dr. D. B. G. said...

To imagine that Burger King would market a sandwich made of a premium quality beef, such as Angus, is a dead giveaway in itself for anyone who knows their beef. The commercials are a hoot, and far more entertaining than most of the mindless advertising which interrupts TV viewing. I do not anticipate any major spikes in the mortality rate due to anyone trying one of these once every other week, along with a salad and diet drink, of course. No Heinz Ketchup, however! Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce or A-1 Steak Sauce are the only seasonings which a gourmand would allow near Angus beef.

06 Sep 2004 | Chris McCaw said...

It's 4AM (Eastern) and I'm watching this half hour infomercial airing right now on KIRO7 Seattle and it seems to be all the ads strung together and run in a perpetual loop... or until the half hour is up! You can't sit there and watch the 30 minutes, so I guess they're hoping to catch channel surfers in the dead-of-the-night. I phoned the toll-free number and it leads you to the burger distributor's head office. I went to the website and played some of the "interventions" and replaced the blanks w/ dirty words. FUNNY STUFF! lol WTF (Who) would BUY the book when you can download it for free w/ the Adobe Acrobat? I know if you try to buy it, they remind you you can d/l it for fre... but still. Any way to milk some money out of idiots stupid enough to pay for an advertisement, eh?

09 Sep 2004 | daylan said...

I think its great !
thats just taking a serious look at how diets have become. they are ALL so misleading ! "I LOST 30 POUNDS IN 2 WEEKS"... I HAD MY BABY.
DIETS DONT WORK , DIETS ARENT EVEN DESIGNED TO WORK, WE EAT TOO MUCH BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A STATE OF CONFUSION.

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