Friday, 6 February 2009 by nalika
Here's the Burger King's advertisement site.
There are already plenty of criticisms and people blogging about this, such as:
Minnesota Hmong protesting against Burger King's Whopper Virgins campaign, on Twin Cities Daily Planet
Burger King Offends Global Culture on the Telegraph by Emily Haile
Burger King is Despicable: A Rant by Pico and the Man
Like the above two bloggers I guess the critics would find refuge in the Inuit's man's remarks that he prefers seal meat over hamburgers... but since the BK shows it as a part of their documentary-ish ad, I wonder if this is carefully crafted by the BK ad crew.
While I haven't been to either Baan Mon Kghor or Baan Khun Chang Kian myself, I also wonder if these villages are really that remote, in a similar vein with what Seng Vang is commenting:
This is obviously a false, as the specific people in the ads (who are our relatives) HAVE seen burgers before, lots of it. Almost every Hmong Thai villages in Thailand have a TV. Thailand has how many BK franchises? How many commercials in Thai have these franchises run in the past several decades? Even the most remote Hmong villages in Thailand, like the ones in your ad, drive Toyota Tundras, talk to their relatives in St. Paul on their cell phones, and watch CNN and BBC on their satellite TVs. Never seen a burger? Pure fiction. Hmong villagers in Thailand aren’t as backward or primitive as you want Americans or the world to think.From what I have seen in the mountains of Thailand, some Hmong villages are indeed remote with no electricity, but some Hmong villages are electrified, in that case villagers do own satellite dishes.
I wonder why the BK ad crew chose the Hmong people of all "remote" and "tribal" people they could choose from, even though there are significant number of Hmong people who have immigrated to the U.S. after the Vietnam War, who would voice their opinions. If they wanted to pick up some of the most "remote" and "tribal" people from Thailand, they could have gone for the Mlabri people, for instance.
My guess is that the BK ad crew picked the Hmong villages because they are actually some of the most accessible of all the tribal villages. In the documentary-ish video, the Hmong people there are actually speaking Thai, and I won't be surprised if they have come down to the city of Chiang Mai and came across BK and McDonald's outlets in the night bazaar area where they'd sell their beautifully embroidered goods and silver jewelry to tourists.