Tell me, is there anything more iconoclastic to the American menu than the hamburger? I don’t think so. While making this video we had fun featuring the ‘Drive In’ or the ‘Burger Joint’ that so brands America’s fast food cuisine. Look at the showing of classic cars, the neon blinking light, then imagine rock n’ roll blasting out from those car radios. This is a slice of Americana that has been featured in more movies than any other menu item. Burger, fries and a coke. Beginning, middle and the end of a meal that spanned the globe and still does. Who, in their wildest imaginings, would’ve ever imagined that McDonald’s Golden Arches’ would be in Red Square! AND, have queues wrapped around for a mile just waiting to go in and eat a burger. Why? It’s a good question, don’t you think?
The answer is ‘branding’. The hamburger with all the trimmings… but don’t forget to throw in the fries and the coke…NOW you have American branding on a plate. More commercials for both TV broadcast as well as those that are showcased at the cinema….huge big full screen display of that iconic meal just when you are starving.
I recently saw a very effective burger commercial, picture this:
Red Pickup rolling along a dirt road…nothing else in sight;
trail of dust streams along from behind it… back drop, hills, before it, open road..above only vast open sky.
Pickup stops, radio playing some very male tune…
very good looking young buck climbs out of the pickup,
leans himself against the truck and unwraps his big, juicy, burger… we get a close up of it…it has all the trimmings –
and then this gravel baritone voice says… “don’t bother me – I’m eating here.”
It’s interesting to me that the hamburger has a decidedly male branding; no one would use a woman to sell a hamburger. How in the world did that happen? Who decided it was a male’s domain and not a female’s? Were you to look over all the older commercials that span the 1950’s and 60’s you’d discover that while the males were featured as ‘wolfing’ down burgers, the females were eating their french fries, one fry at a time,… and sipping their cokes through straws, while the men usually gulped at their cokes in between chomping on their burger.
Maybe it’s the size of the burger that defines it’s supposed masculinity. You almost need two hands to hold one…the gals do, but some guys just grab the honking burger and take a huge bite. Let’s see, maybe if we examine the other elements that make up a burger we’ll be able to figure out how this, basically American Sandwich, became the domain of the American Male… young, virile, male at that!
Okay, we have lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, if you’re not on a date that is! Maybe mayonnaise, and almost always, ketchup and mustard. So what’s ‘male’ about those ingredients? Nothing that I can see.
Now we know, it was all a part of an strategically executed advertising and marketing campaign. Someone, somewhere, decided that more men than women would eat this sandwich and that was where it was born. The American Burger for the American male. It stuck and it’s still here.