Ruffling Feather


July 1998


Ruffling Feathers

Burger King shadows are only a memory

Fast-food chain Burger King, whose current ad campaign uses the songs and symbols of American pop culture to promote its sandwich brands, took a jab at the "Shadows" diamond commercials with a prime-time TV ad in April.

The tongue-in-cheek spot opened with sleek shadows of a couple dancing to violin music in the background, reminiscent of long-running De Beers commercials by ad agency J. Walter Thompson. At the ad's climax, the man presents a box to his gasping girlfriend and opens it to reveal – a Burger King chicken sandwich.

While the ad was testament to consumers' awareness of the diamond campaign, it also may have come close to an infringement of trade dress, the legal protection of a company's established promotional symbols. A Burger King spokesperson says the ads ran without interruption for their scheduled three-week "flight," but at their finale guardians of the De Beers name breathed a sigh of relief.

"We are pleased to see that the commercials are no longer on the air," says Joan Parker, director of the Diamond Information Center, the consumer marketing arm of J. Walter Thompson. Parker would not comment on whether the ad agency asked Burger King to pull the ads.

- by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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