What Subservient Chicken Odyssey is this?

What Subservient Chicken Odyssey is this?

Burger King-the (in) famous–North American fast food franchise–is resurrecting its famous chicken advert/viral campaign, started in 2004, whereby  a weird and wacky chicken responded to very specific Web commands typed onto keyboards by consumers. This innovative marketing initiative took the Internet by storm, proving the Internet could be used to sell products if promoted in an interactive way with consumers.

The video went viral generating one billion hits(that’s right: one billion hits!)- creating an entirely new industry–.i.e., Internet advertising–and consolidating the Internet as an important corporate marketing vehicle in North America.

The chicken even had its own website — subservientchicken.com —and was created to introduce Burger King’s Tender Crisp chicken sandwich; this site is now being resurrected by Burger King in 2014, ten years hence, to promote its new Chicken Big King sandwich. However, this time the website is absent one important ingredient—the chicken.

On the weekend of April 26th-27th, 2014, Burger King ran advertisements in 10 newspapers across America asking the question: “Have you seen this chicken?”

Burger King’s name does not appear in the advertisements because a social media campaign posing the same question is to follow.

At 9 a.m. Eastern Time Wednesday, April 30th, Burger King will post a 10 minute video covering the chicken’s imaginary life over the past decade.

There are a number of reasons for the above being mentioned in this article.

One: should this advertising campaign succeed, then the many low-paid workers in this part of the service industry will have a higher measure of job security: more customers, more work.

Two: as more and more Americans heed the public information-cum-warning campaigns about heart disease and the individual’s responsibility to maintain their own good health by making good food choices (read: avoid cow meat), chicken is now the principal choice of the masses.

Three: the fast food industry is in commercial warfare as consumers move towards healthier food choices and public health authorities declare war on companies and industries that have and are contributing to bad eating and health habits among the general public. To survive, these companies and industries are getting into market segments that have proven profitable for their competitors. Here, they do not have to invest in long-term research and development to discover such segments: just copy your competitors.

Four: with McDonalds dominating the American breakfast industry; Starbucks its coffee industry; and new entrants like Taco Bell making their presence known and felt at the bottom line; plus, rising regional players such as Tim Hortons in the northern and Eastern USA, the $230 billion fast-food industry is at a tipping point in its existence. Their sun of commercial success is about to stop shining.

Fifth: the entertainment-distraction complex  (read: film and television), allied to the rise of the Internet; and, more recently, the penetration into private life of the smart phone, has created an alternative source of knowledge and information , outside of, and in addition to the home, undermining in the process parental authority and substituting the authority of the corporation and the market where, for example, the imaginary life of a wacky chicken can be cause for attention for large segments of the Internet savvy American Public; remember this image generated one billion hits on the Internet.

When a corporation can generate one billion hits on the Internet for mass viewing of a wacky chicken whose subliminal message is mass consumption, entertainment and immediate gratification, is it any wonder the modern family is defined by a variety of child-parent conflict best dealt with by some parents through prayer for Divine Intervention when not the abandonment of their authority altogether for others?

What chance does a parent have when their authority is undermined and substituted by an imaginary wacky chicken with a call to be eaten for real in a Burger King restaurant? What chance?

Charles Simon-Aaron

Word count: 650

Monday, April 28th, 2014


Charles Simon-Aaron


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