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Marketing: Flesh Peddlers

Burger King's campaign to make Chicken Run appetizing.

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Chicken run is all about an assortment of lovable little fowls trying to flee their coop before they're reduced to dead meat. Burger King, of course, is all about an assortment of fast-food restaurants that serve little else besides dead meat. It's peculiar, then, that the twain should meet with a promotional tie-in aimed specifically at tykes. Right now, virtually every Burger King in the country is plastered with signs, menus (detail pictured), and blow-up ceiling decorations featuring wild-eyed, slightly shaky, desperate-looking chicks and roosters holding signs reading eat a whopper! and beef is good! Children are strongly advised to collect all four Chicken Run-related plastic toys: Rocky's Rooster Booster, Mac's Highwire Act, Bunty Breaks Out, and Ginger's Eggstreme Escape. Of course, these gadgets are available only with the purchase of a $2.99 Kid's Meal, which includes a small drink, an order of fries, and your choice of a hamburger, a cheeseburger, or . . . a greasy pile of breaded "Fun Airplane-Shaped Chicken Tenders" that eerily evoke the makeshift escape devices invented by the chickens in the film. Whereas the film depicts our endangered chicks as shrewd yet sweet little rascals, this promotion brings to the surface a darker, more mercenary side to Bunty & Co. These chickens will do anything to save their necks -- first, by promoting the consumption of their cow kin, and then, if that doesn't work, attempting to escape not on Rocky's Rooster Booster but on an aircraft built from the flesh of their own brothers and sisters. It seems the moral code in Hollywood's barnyard of talking animals has declined significantly since the days of selfless Charlotte and precious little Babe. Representatives for DreamWorks and Burger King did not return calls, and all we could get out of one manager was the repeated mantra "Save the chickens! Eat Whoppers instead!" But one insubordinate employee did whisper, "I think the whole thing is really strange, really weird . . . and kind of creepy." Customers, it seems, are up in arms, too. When we pointed out the tie-in with the chicken tenders, a young man munching on a Rodeo Burger at the East 86th Street Burger King exclaimed, "It's like they're promoting cannibalism, man!"


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