Many times in life, we go about our day-to-day lives in ways designed to keep ourselves protected, and sometimes under-wraps. Rarely do we want to find ourselves at the center of attention, especially if it’s negative attention. We find it much safer to keep quiet and out of the spotlight. However, in the scenario of bullying, that shouldn’t be the case.
October is National Bullying-Prevention Month. To bring awareness to this massive cultural issue, Burger King (Yep, that’s right - the fast-food burger chain!) released a commercial that is making nearly all who see it stop and consider their responses to negative interactions and attention. It’s not often that a fast food commercial will make you cry, but this one is definitely stirring up emotions.
Burger King participated in a simple social experiment: they would take a high school boy and a Whopper, and “bully” them both. The teen would be eating alone when a group of his peers would come up and bully him; they’d call him names, play with his food, pour his drink on him, and even push him off his chair. At the same time, the cook in the back, who is preparing the food, would smash a burger and destroy it. Both instances give customers the same chance to respond; the results are drastically and heartbreakingly different.
While the boy gets bullied, those around him merely watch. Of course, they are uncomfortable, but they don’t have the boldness to do anything to make the bullies stop what they’re doing. As I was watching it, all I could do was cringe - it was truly uncomfortable.
In the back of the restaurant, the cook takes his fist and slams it into the burger, breaking it up and making it look completely unpresentable. When the customers open the wrappers to find destroyed burgers, they’re shocked. This is where things in the commercial take a turn.
While the same people who had watched the teen boy get bullied did nothing to stop his bullying, they are completely offended that their $3 burger is sloppy. The next part is exactly why the social experiment was conducted in the first place: would anyone say anything?
Without a doubt, 95% of customers that receive a “bullied burger” complain to management. The cook (an actor) replies to the complaints with a simple but surprising question: “Did you order it bullied or un-bullied?” The complaining customers can’t wrap their heads around what is happening. The reaction of each frustrated customer is truly shocking as several of them legitimately get angry and begin to stand up for their burger. However, the bullied teen has gone almost entirely defenseless.
Sadly, only 12% of customers stand up for the bullied boy. When later asked why they stood up, they said, “It’s the right thing to do, regardless.” Thank you, good Samaritans and kind people! Know that your kindness and actions start chain reactions that inspire humans to be better.
Thank you to Burger King for using their fast-food fame as an unlikely platform for bringing awareness to bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month. Remember that everyone can make a difference; you just have to be bold and stand up for the right things.
Check out the video, below, to see the full social experiment.