Painful Advertising Mistakes – #4

May 29, 12 Painful Advertising Mistakes – #4

We continue our blog on Painful Advertising Mistakes when launching a campaign to a multicultural market.

Painful Advertising Mistake #4

The number four way advertisers can breeze past the Hispanic market is to disregard their cultural symbols and stereotype their target market.

“The Taste of Texas with a Little Spicy Mexican.”

Burger King’s 2009 ad for the Texican Whopper burger was in poor taste. The ad sparked so much controversy that it was pulled from syndication in Spain upon demand from the Mexican ambassador. Although Burger King might not have intended to insult the Mexican or the Latino community as a whole, the ad proved to be an excellent example of advertising mishap thanks to the use of stereotyping Mexicans as “little” and “spicy.” As if that was not politically incorrect enough, Burger King severely misused a huge cultural symbol: the Mexican flag. As seen in the Texican Whopper print ad, the Mexican man is wearing the Mexican Flag as a poncho. With the combined stereotyping and misuse of symbols, the Texican Whopper stands as the epitome of a multi-cultural ad gone wrong.

“When a brand ignores a cultural symbol and stereotypes a community it shows their unawareness of the target market and ultimately the consumer they are trying to reach.  Brands need to understand their market and the best way to connect with them is to understand their culture,” per George L. San Jose , President and Chief Operating Officer of The San Jose Group.

Moral of the Story: So how do advertisers avoid alienating the Hispanic market? Simply drop the stereotypes and think twice about how cultural artifacts are being used and portrayed in the ad. With a market as notably brand loyal as the Hispanic market, insulting them is certainly not the way to sell the product.

Stay tuned for Painful Mistake #5 in a future blog.

Cover Photo Source: Ken Wolter /

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