Burger King wants you to know that it respects your emotions and that you should feel however you want to feel.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness month, Burger King has rolled out a new promotion in certain cities in which it is offering “real meals” in different colored boxes that are supposed to promote the “overall mental health of all Americans.” Pointedly, there is no “happy meal.” Instead, you can get one of five boxes with mood-matching colors — red for “pissed,” blue for “sad,” teal for “salty,” purple for “YAAAS,” and black for “DGAF.” (If, like me, you don’t know what the last two moods are, “YAAAS” reflects extreme excitement and the first three words of DGAF are “don’t give a” and you can figure out the rest.)
Burger King explained: “With the pervasive nature of social media, there is so much pressure to appear happy and perfect. With Real Meals, the Burger King brand celebrates being yourself and feeling however you want to feel.” A commercial running in one of the markets where the promotion is being offered — Columbus isn’t one of them — ends with the statement: “No one is happy all the time, and that’s OK.”
I’m all for promoting overall mental health, but I wish companies like Burger King would just stick to making the best food they can at the best prices, and not act like they care about their customers as unique individuals with their own emotional lives — because they don’t. And that’s really all right, because Burger King’s job is just to sell food, and any time they veer into other territory, like focusing on customer mood, they’re just being distracted from being the best at what they’re supposed to be doing.
At bottom, getting a different colored box at a fast food joint to celebrate your “mood” seems like a pretty weird and superficial way of promoting mental health. If you feel sad when you’re ordering your burger, do you really want to confess it to the kid wearing the paper hat behind the counter so your order can be put into a blue box rather than a purple one? And the superficial nature of the whole concept is confirmed by the fact that everyone who orders a “real meal” gets a Whopper, french fries, and a drink, whether they’re feeling “pissed” or “YAAAS.”
So if you’re at one end of the mood spectrum or another, it all boils down to a different colored flimsy cardboard box that will get pitched into the trash and whether you get a diet soda or not. That doesn’t seem like much of a way to “celebrate being yourself and feeling however you want to feel,” does it?