Burger chain's climate change whopper
Tennessee outlets ended up eating humble pie after a local reporter spotted 'rogue' signs outside Burger King outlets
Would you like a side order of climate denial with your flame-broiled Triple Whopper? If so, then you need to get yourself over to Tennessee where a number of Burger King franchises in the US state that gave us Al Gore have been displaying "Global Warming is Baloney" signs outside their fast-food restaurants.
Chris Davis, a staff writer for the Memphis Flyer, a local newsweekly, noticed the signs outside two Burger Kings in the city last week and decided to put in a call to one of the restaurants to inquire whether such a view was now official Burger King policy. Here's his transcript of the call…
Davis: Hi, I'm calling from the Flyer about your sign. Does Burger King really think global warming is baloney?
Davis: [Calling back]: Your sign out front says global warming is baloney.
BK: I don't see that, sir.
Davis: Well, it does.
BK: I don't see that sir... I change the signs and that sign's been up for a week.
Davis: Well, I have pictures that I took this afternoon…So, there's no question that your sign said it and so did one in Midtown. I want to know if it was on purpose, or if it was a prank someone pulled on you.
BK: Let me get the manager. [several minutes of dead air then the same or very similar voice picks up.]
BK: Who were you holding for?
Davis: A manager, about the sign. I have pictures of the sign and people have called me upset. I just want to know if it's a mistake or not so I can report it.
BK: Let me go outside and look at the sign and I'll call you right back. [exchange of contact info]
[Phone rings, Davis answers]
BK: The sign was put up yesterday.
Davis: And it's not a mistake?
Davis: It reflects the opinion of BK international?
BK: Yes. Would you like to talk to the home office? I can give you a number.
Davis: I've got the number, I've already contacted them. Thanks.
A few days pass before Davis hears back from someone higher up the food chain at Burger King. Last Friday, he finally received an email from Susan Robison, the vice president of corporate communications at the Burger King Corporation:
This statement ["Global Warming is baloney"] does not reflect a Burger King Corp. (BKC) opinion or view. The two restaurants where these signs appeared are independently owned and operated and were not authorized to display this statement. The signs have since been removed. BKC believes in operating as a socially responsible company and is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where it lives and works.
One imagines that someone at Burger King realised that the "global warming is baloney" line didn't exactly chime with the views of John Chidsey, the company's CEO, who believes that climate change is "an overriding issue of importance for the global community, business community and people in general", as he stated in this short interview conducted at this year's World Economic Forum. (How he squares this concern with his company's drive-thru, meat-munching business model is another matter, though.)
Memphis Flyer readers have been contacting the paper since the story first appeared to say that they have noticed other restaurants across Tennessee displaying the same sign. It appears that they are all owned by a company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC) that owns more than 40 Burger Kings across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, as well as a handful of Popeyes and All In One franchises. Some readers have added that the signs are still up at some of the restaurants. Davis says he has requested a response from MIC, but has not yet received one.
I applaud their honesty, though. I think we should know what a restaurant's position is on the key issues of the day before we choose to step across their threshold. Let's go the full hog – I want to know their views on immigration, cap and trade, MPs expenses, schooling, the Middle East's roadmap, Susan Boyle and stem cell research before I even reach the menu board outside. Maybe there's room in the fast-food sector for a politically-themed chain of restaurants? How about we call it Hard To Swallow?