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Burger King live cow ad avoids ban for poor taste

LONDON – Burger King has escaped censure over a television ad, which was criticised by some as tasteless for featuring a live cow that had been outfitted in the fast-food chain's logo.

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The ad, created by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, resulted in 82 complaints from viewers.

It showed a man in a field singing "£1.99er. They're only £1.99". Towards the end of the spot a cow is seen walking past in the background outfitted in the Burger King logo as if it was on its way to becoming burgers. The spot was seen as offensive to many viewers, some of whom were vegetarian.

Viewers complained that it was distressing to show a live cow in an ad for Burger King, which sells beef products. Others said it was especially offensive to show the cow with the logo on its back as if it were a commodity.

The ad agency said the ad was based on a country singer reflecting on the countryside while singing the £1.99 tune and that the cow was simply used to recreate the rural environment.

The agency said its intention was to create humour by drawing viewer's attention to the Burger King logo in an engaging way. It said that there was no deliberate intention to link the product to the animal.

The Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre said it accepted that viewers, including meat-eaters, would not necessarily want to be reminded where meat products came from.

Nevertheless, it felt that there was not such a close link between the passing cow and Burger King products to cause widespread or serious offence.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it appreciated that some viewers would consider it to be in poor taste to feature a live animal in an ad for a product containing its meat, advertising the product on its back.

However, in judging between poor taste and widespread offence, the ASA recognised that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence against general public feeling. 

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