Hungry Jack’s (the Australian version of Burger King) is advertising Dark Knight themed kids’ meals. The TV ads begin with the call “Look, kids!”, and go on to display the tacky Batman toys consumers get with the “meal”.
They also display an M rating icon, because in Australia the movie The Dark Knight is classified M for “frequent action violence” — meaning kids aren’t supposed to watch it.¹ In accordance with classification guidelines, the big M appears prominently in the Hungry Jack’s ad; but in accordance with human nature, it is ignored like the elephant in the room.
You have to admire the dumb optimism of Hungry Jack’s as they try to entice children with images of plastic crap tenuously linked to a movie children aren’t allowed to see.
Traditional wisdom² tells advertisers that a new comic book related movie is an excuse to market to children, and so reflex kicks in as if Pavlov had rung his bell. (A similar reflex applies at Christma$.) But these days, comics and their related films are mostly aimed at twentysomethings, and to a lesser extent, to middle aged former child readers.³ So a new Batman movie should have prompted the giving away of black mouse pads with chicken baguettes, not cheap toys with kids’ meals. But this is quite a cognitive leap to expect marketers to make.
At the very least they could have had the Batman toy make an authentic bone-breaking sound when you swing its fist.
Hungry Jack’s also offers a Dark Knight themed product to adult consumers. It’s a burger called the Dark Whopper. Seriously. Is that a sly dirty joke on the part of Hungry Jack’s and/or its ad agency? Are the Dark Whopper, and the tie-in toys for an M rated movie, meant to be ironic? Your guess is as good as mine.
1. Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department: Classification categories and markings. “The M category is recommended for mature audiences. A mature perspective is required to view this material. The content is of a moderate impact.” Curiously, the official description of the all-ages G classification includes “Some of these films and computer games contain content that would be of no interest to children.”
2. The word “wisdom” is used here in a non-standard way.
3. Comic book characters like Spider-Man and Batman are published in mainstream titles for today’s adult readership, and also in alternative versions for young readers. (I think that’s arse-about, but don’t get me started.) By convention, the young readers’ editions are often denoted by the use of the word “adventures” in the title: The Batman Adventures, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, etc. Additionally, in Australia the vast majority of mainstream comic titles are sold exclusively through specialist comic shops, rather than in their former home, newsagencies.