By Gina Cetrone
Fast food – a rather controversial product to advertise for. Will the ads actually increase the childhood obesity rates with their depictions of juicy burgers and crispy French fries? Let’s step outside the bun for a second. Instead of catering to the eyes and stomach, what if advertising actually catered to touch instead? Well that’s exactly what the South African ad agency did and with surprisingly positive results.In a recent ad campaign, Metropolitan Republic reached out to the seeing-impaired when they created a viral video promoting “Braille Burgers.” The South African fast food chain, Wimpy, has had Braille menus out since 2002; however, there was really no way to promote it as television and print ads would not have been ideal. The video features the making of fifteen of these “Braille Burgers” being constructed, beginning with the rising dough. It depicts the painstaking labor taken to carefully spell out the message “100% Pure Beef Burger Made For You” in sesame seeds. (Oh yes. You better believe each tiny seed was placed meticulously on the dough with a pair of tweezers.) The video then captures the reactions of the visually impaired who read the surprise message on the bun. With this video, Wimpy “claims that social media spread the positive reactions of the 15 people to a total of 800,000 others” (Huffington Post).
The message is small, yet significant. Oftentimes we are so focused on appealing to specific race and gendered target markets that we sometimes forget about those with disabilities. It was refreshing to see this unique ad depicted through food and acknowledging a market that is rarely focused upon – the seeing-impaired. With this kind of advertising, the blind can figuratively “see” and experience their food.
It would be interesting to see how this food innovation affects the advertising world here in the US. In the US, digital technology is rapidly taking over the advertising industry; however, most of the time the visually disabled are left out of the equation. Could this trend in advertising by means of actual food be used in advertising not only for the visual impaired but for a “general” audience as well? Surely this will not be the last we hear of the unique “Braille Burgers”. Who knows, maybe the next time you pick up a Big Mac there will be a message waiting for you spelled out in ketchup.