Burger King’s “Square Butts” Ad Uses Exploitation to Promote Kids’ Products

Offender: Burger King, “Square Butts” commercial

Media Outlet: Airing on various TV stations, starting in April 2009

The Offense: Burger King (BK) promotes its 99 cents kids meal through a tie-in with Nickelodeon character SpongeBob SquarePants and a take-off of the song “Baby Got Back”  In the original song, Sir Mix-a-Lot rapped about liking women’s “big butts” — this time the King (BK’s mascot) admires “square butts” on women.

NOW’s Analysis: Who in the world decides to combine a song about women’s “big butts” with a beloved children’s cartoon character? Have the executives at Burger King lost their minds?  What about the executives at Nickelodeon who approved the use of SpongeBob SquarePants in this offensive ad?

Just like the original video for “Baby Got Back” (and countless other music videos, we should add), the women in this commercial are sexualized and valued solely for their body parts. The King measures one woman’s bottom with a tape measure, and Sir Mix-a-Lot himself appears at the end to declare “booty is booty.”

This ad would seem crass if it were aimed only at adults, but it’s wildly inappropriate for kids. It proudly sends the message to young girls and boys that women are objects to be leered at by men, and it uses a cartoon character known for his innocent optimism to do so. Shame on BK and Nickelodeon.

Take Action: Tell Burger King what you think of their commercial!

And tell Viacom, the parent company of cable network Nickelodeon, what you think about them selling out SpongeBob for this ad (make sure to click on Compose Message and then select Compose Your Own Letter and click Next Step).

Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director


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