Burger King, Michel Gondry, and a yodelling teen work to make cow farts less lethal

It looked like Burger King’s Twitter account had been hacked when a tweet went out saying “breathe the farts of change,” but it turned out to be announcing an epic new commercial from star director Michel Gondry.

Mason Ramsey, a yodelling teen from YouTube, sings the tale of Burger King’s environmental epiphany, crooning lines like: “When cows fart and burp and splatter, well it ain’t no laughing matter.”

The clean, fresh look of the ad is hard to swallow from Burger King, but the film finishes honestly, saying, “Since we are part of the problem, we are working to be part of the solution.”

Burger King is trying to be more eco-friendly, and is feeding its cows an increased diet of lemongrass, which cuts methane bovine emissions by a third. Burgers made from these cows are currently only available at restaurants in Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Portland, but Burger King is sharing its science and spreading the word.

Fernando Machado, global CMO for Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, said: “If the whole industry, from farmers, meat suppliers, and other brands join us, we can increase scale and collectively help reduce methane emissions that affect climate change.”

An independent agency in New York, called We Believers, created the ad. Cow farts have got to be better than mouldy burgers.

MAA creative scale: 8

Update

Laura Cascada at the Better Food foundation writes:

Tofu, not lemongrass, will curb cow farts

Let’s get to the meat of Burger King’s singalong: the absurd ad isn’t a sudden departure from the company’s dismal environmental record. It’s a thinly veiled marketing campaign to help the burger giant to get back to what it does best without further ado: peddling Whoppers.

BK and its peers have fed Americans harmful defaults through kid-friendly motifs for decades. But the pandemic has revealed that our old habits—like eating cheap meat from factory farms that serve as hotbeds for disease and fuel climate change—won’t make for a secure future. We’re now witnessing the biggest decline in meat consumption in decades.

As Americans’ appetite for beef sours, Burger King could champion a new normal by centering the Impossible Whopper on its menu and sidelining the beef. One study found that making veggies the default on menus reduced meat consumption by over 80 percent. Imagine how many cow farts would be spared not by feeding cows lemongrass in a handful of states, but by millions opting out of beef altogether.

Conscientious consumers will see BK’s commercial for what it is: greenwashing to ultimately sell more burgers—and churn out more greenhouse gases. And they won’t wait around for the burger giant to get the hint. National Geographic recently reported that almost half of millennials have been going meatless more often, and sustainable plant proteins are flying off the shelves.

With or without fast food, Americans are ready to usher in a more sustainable default: plant protein.

Laura Lee Cascada has a master’s degree in environmental policy from Johns Hopkins University and is the Campaigns Director at the Better Food Foundation.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.