The above ad was run by Hardee’s in 2011 to promote their new under-500 calorie turkey burger, and became the latest addition to the company’s vault of overly sexual advertisements. The ad features beauty pageant competitor, Gizem Memic, who held the title of Miss Turkey in 2010. She is shown donning only a bikini, sash and crown, with a burger in hand.
The dominant text in the image reads, “We hired Miss Turkey to help sell our new charbroiled turkey burger because, well, they’re both named Turkey.” This message conveys a flippant attitude regarding the company’s sexualization of women, as they are up front about the fact that there is little relevance between a woman in a bikini and promoting a burger. Stating that the only commonality between the two is the word, “Turkey,” makes it clear that the inclusion of Miss Turkey is solely for the attention her body will receive. At the base of the ad it states, “Just the way it is,” which struck me as an alarming statement to have coupled with a woman in a bikini whose sexuality is clearly being exploited for a marketing scheme. I did not find this statement to be a slogan of Hardee’s as I initially assumed, making its presence in this ad even more troubling. As a company whose ad campaigns almost entirely revolve around the sexualization of women, the inclusion of, “just the way it is,” can be interpreted as a statement about the treatment of women in advertising as a whole, and the use of their bodies as platform through which any product can be sold.
The description of the actual product being presented is in a font so small that it can barely be read, and highlights that the burger being advertised is secondary to the image of a woman in a bikini. It’s as if to say, it doesn’t matter the specifics of what they’re selling, because they don’t expect consumers to care beyond the image of a woman in a bikini. Yet the ad is also attention grabbing so that, while consumers may not care about the specifics of the product being advertised, they will likely take note of the company running the advert. I also find it noteworthy that this ad was run largely in Mens Health magazine, making their target audience of males abundantly clear.
My intention with the jamming of this ad was to emphasize the company’s heavy reliance on the sexualization of Miss Turkey, to the point that all other aspects of the ad were secondary at best. The product, a charbroiled turkey burger, was barely noticeable next to the dominant picture of a woman in a bikini, and the minuscule text that details the advertised product further emphasized the lack of visual attention they aim to bring to the product itself.
In my reconstruction of the original ad, I have removed the burger from the hand of the model, and replaced the ad’s original text to read, “Who knows what we’re selling? Who even cares? Hardee’s”. With these changes, I aim to emphasize the extent to which Hardee’s focuses on the female form as a platform through which they can gain consumer interest.
I have replaced the bottom text of, “Just the way it is,” with, “Just deal with it,” to point out Hardee’s consistent advertising angle of the sexualization of women as a means to garner more attention. With their continued production of countless ads like the original one pictured here, despite consistent negative feedback from offended audiences, the company is making a stand that they see no harm in their marketing approach. It’s portrayed as if Miss Turkey is the product far more than the burger is-and is just as much a piece of meat as the burger is; women are there to appeal to the male gaze and, “that’s just the way it is.”