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The Sexualization of SpongeBob

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The latest Burger King commercial has some parents in an uproar. Is this any way to advertise kids' meals?!

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has launched a letter-writing campaign demanding that Nickelodeon and Burger King immediately pull a new, "highly sexualized" television ad for BK's 99-cent SpongeBob Kids Meal.

"It's bad enough when companies use a beloved media character like SpongeBob to promote junk food to children, but it's utterly reprehensible when that character simultaneously promotes objectified, sexualized images of women," said CCFC director Susan Linn in a press release. "That Burger King and Nickelodeon would sell kids' meals by associating a beloved male character like SpongeBob with lechery shows how little either company cares about the well-being of the children they target."

In a response provided to Marketing Daily on Wednesday, Burger King Corp. said that it welcomes the opportunity to "clear up any confusion" about the intentions of the advertising.

BK points out that the Kids Meal is a "value-based offer aimed at adults" and requires an adult BK Value Meal purchase. The commercial is meant to appeal to adults who take their kids to BK, and as with all BK adult advertising campaigns, it is being shown "only during shows targeting adult audiences," the company states. The commercial "is intended to show that even adults can have fun, laugh and be silly with entertainment genres -- such as rap and pop culture icons -- that have become part of everyday life."

The chain has developed a second, "completely different" SpongeBob advertising campaign for kids that's currently airing on kid-targeted programming, BK adds.

Do you think this ad is inappropriate ... or is this much ado about nothing?

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50 comments so far | Post a comment now
liza April 9, 2009, 7:43 PM

It’s just parody. It’s funny. Get over it.

Scatteredmom April 9, 2009, 7:47 PM

I haven’t liked any of the current Burger King commercials-many of them have creepy, sorta sexual overtones (like in one..”He’s SO good with his HANDS” and the creepy King guy wiggles his fingers)

This is just another example of the same run of lame commercials. I’m not sure how Spongebob and square butts have anything to do with kid’s meals.

Andrea April 9, 2009, 8:03 PM

I love SpongeBob, but this commercial was appallingly sexist and completely inappropriate for children. That the Nickelodeon folks OK’d this in the first place is misguided at best and negligent at worst. And what’s up with that creepy BK mask? Will they ever retire that scary weirdo?

jenn April 9, 2009, 8:29 PM

my kids are 2 and 4 and i monitor very closely what they watch on t.v.-they won’t be seeing this, or even heading to BK for a kids meal…it’s the sign of the times, and a shame that we have to be so vigilant regarding what is on television- i hate spongebob anyway- why would i allow my kids to view such a ridiculous specimen that is supposed to be considered as funny. lastly, burger king has terrible food- so whatever burger king promotes and puts out there, i for one will not be a supporter!

Sarah April 9, 2009, 9:21 PM

How does this appeal to kids? Burger King has lost it.If they ever had it.

Blue April 9, 2009, 9:36 PM

This is aimed at adults with children, not at children per se. The demographic that remembers the Baby Got Back craze now has small children who are into Spongebob. Did someone make a mistake in the ad department? Possibly, it’s a crap commercial. Should we boycott BK? Pointless, really.

And the same people who have a problem with this commercial… do you have any problem with the fact that Spongebob’s friend Patrick looks like a sex toy?

Ad agencies need to be responsible for what they put out there, it’s true. But we, as parents, need to be responsible for what our children eat and view on television.

chongita April 9, 2009, 10:43 PM

Not cool! I cant believe Sir Mix A Lot sold out this way!It may be on for prime time but for a KID’s meal!? Do we really need to teach our kids to objectify women this way? I have been trying to undo all the damage done to ME as a kid and now this is just out there, bigger than the butts they are shakin!
I hope my daughter never sees this!

upset April 10, 2009, 1:23 AM

This is so un real children love this show , and i have a grandson that watches this on a regular basis . Now i may have to stop him from watching it. You have made a sexual mess of spongebob’s show ,this makes me very mad.

Sofia6 April 10, 2009, 3:54 AM

I’d be lying if I said that this commercial was “wrong”. I cant even count anymore how many times the original song has been played in our house and we all dance to it. Seriously. In our family we actually have big butts…. =) ANYway, we dont need an excuse to buy a kid’s meal; whether its Spongebob or some other character as long as there’s a toy….

surprised April 10, 2009, 8:55 AM

the fact of the matter is they are taking a highly sexual song that is for adults ears, and turning it into something that is aimed towards children! That is NOT okay in my book. that is down right lame, and I would like for Sir Mix a Lot to realize that he is a sell out, and shame on him for getting that low to get paid to use his once popular song to be used for a kid’s meal. BK is pathetic, as usual they have to sample song’s to get attention. Their food makes me ill as it is.

surprised April 10, 2009, 8:58 AM

reply to @Sofia6:
Yea, and I am sure your kids are going to be using cuss words in class too, if they are not already. You let your kids sing along to the words of “my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon?” you are a sad excuse for a parent!

Rodrigo F April 10, 2009, 12:36 PM

I watched it a few times to make sure I understood what this ad is about: I saw a comercial aimed at young parents who will (after buying an adult value meal) be able to purchase a 99c Kids Meal.
This ad doesn’t seem to be aimed at kids, but at parents. Viewers apparently have only seen this ad played at apropriate times… did i miss something?

31YrsYoung April 10, 2009, 1:46 PM

really? is it necessary to have the BK King put a ruler to a girls “backside” aka “booty?” measuring it? The girls were clearly shaking it like the girls in the original video. It was not just a “shake” it was like, a dirty dancing kind of shake where they call it “the butterfly” or whatever. Clearly I must be getting to that old age where I look at things differently now that I have a teenager and a toddler. Oh, and I’m only 31, so really is it my age or is it a sign of the times where t.v is becoming more and more sexual? I detest almost ALL commercials these days.

31YrsYoung April 10, 2009, 1:48 PM

really? is it necessary to have the BK King put a ruler to a girls “booty” to measure it? The girls were clearly shaking it like the girls in the original video. It was not just a “shake” it was like, a dirty dancing kind of shake. (shudders). Clearly I must be getting to that old age where I look at things differently now that I have a teenager and a toddler. Oh, and I’m only 31, so really is it my age or is it a sign of the times where t.v is becoming more and more sexual? I detest almost ALL commercials these days.

Sabrina April 11, 2009, 11:48 PM

I was looking for somewhere to complain about this or to get an attorney so they can take it off. I am so disgusted by this commercial, I have 4 kids and my kids love BK and spongebob. Its horrible how they have mixed sexual content with something for young children. I believe this is sexual harrassment by a large company to small children. The meaning of sexual harrassment is, if you feel uncomfortable with it is considered sexual harrassment. I cant stand seeing this commercial any longer. Does anyone have any advice of how to get these companies to get this commercial off the air? Please count me in any legal action we can take on this commercial.

Offended Mother of 4

Anonymous April 12, 2009, 10:02 PM

WoW you parents need to get a grip you think this commercial will change anything its like from watching this there gonna be like hell yes those some hot girls realize that no matter what you do its not gonna make them go have sex or something damn you people make me sick im pretty sure if you saw this a sa kid you wouldn’t care

Vinnie April 14, 2009, 1:37 PM

it makes it sound like the burger king guy is a pimp and spongebob is his hoe hes singing and i quote “spongebob i want to get witcha cuz ur making me rich ya” its wierd

Luciana Housenga April 14, 2009, 9:04 PM

I hate that commercial. It’s wrong on so many levels. They are selling kids meals and using a stupid sexual song and combining it with a character for children. I wonder how I can contact Burger King corporate marketing. Anyone? It’s making me so mad everytime I have to scramble for the remote to change the channel. AHHHH!

Alicia April 15, 2009, 11:31 AM

For all of you idiots out there…. Yes it is only being shown on channels that are not kid channels but I was sitting down with my son watching Herbie, when that came on. My 4 year old loves Herbie so I saw nothing wrong with him watching it but than it was commercial time. I am so upset about this commercial. Aimed at adults, please. You show me a 4 year old who won’t stop what they are doing when they see or hear anything about sponge bob. Everyone talks about how kids are today. How kids are into sex earlier than we were, well there ya go. Lets put in there heads as much sex as we can so they will all grow up with sex in there heads. Everyday a nice little family show will come on a network and my son and I watch it together and everyday I have to change the channel from these commercials. At some point everyone needs to open their eyes.

Kelly April 15, 2009, 11:36 AM

I think its horrible! I wont take my kids to burger king for a kids meal just because of this ad its inappropriate and unnecessary there are tons of other ways to promote the fact that adults can have fun and be hip too Im fine with the beat find a different way to do the lyrics seriously until then a Happy Meal will be just fine for my kids

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