Five years ago this advertisement, which was used by Burger King in Singapore to market their “BK Super Seven Incher” (yum?) went viral. I remember it pretty clearly, and I’m pretty sure I wrote a blurb about it for a links column I was penning at the time. People were pretty disgusted with it, for obvious reasons — directing a phallic-looking sandwich into a woman’s wide open red-lipsticked mouth who’s wearing somewhat of a horrified expression doesn’t have so much to do with fast food as it does evoke a theme of sexual abuse. It was pretty gross.
But now the woman in the ad is speaking out. According to the woman, who is remaining anonymous, the image was used without her permission and she didn’t find out about it until well after the fact. She’s released a message via YouTube and is currently exploring her legal options. Here’s some excerpts from a message on the YouTube page:
Burger King found my photo online from a series I did of various facial expressions and contortion poses, and with no due regard to me as a person, profited off reducing me to an orifice for their penis sludge; publicly humiliating me in the process. It was shown online as well as on bus stops and the walls and place mats of their restaurant.
Friends, family, coworkers, prospective employers who saw it assume I was a willing player. Those offended by it don’t know the extent of what’s wrong with the ad; that I didn’t know about this being done to my image, let alone agree to or pose for the scenario.
Why not hire a model to pose with the sandwich?
There is something VERY wrong with the fact that they felt entitled to do that to my face without signing a contract with me.
I believe in sexual expression in art and the media; it’s beautiful and necessary for a healthy society but IT MUST BE CONSENSUAL otherwise it’s RAPE.
It’s unclear whether or not the photos were taken from a personal online portfolio of her work, which would be 100% file-a-lawsuit-right-now wrong — or if the they were taken from a service like iStockPhoto, which would be morally wrong and possibly in violation of the terms of service.
But is it rape? Yeeeesh. I don’t know if I’m comfortable going that far. Plus, this guy wasn’t even involved:
Here’s her video, followed by one of the offending ads in question.