Burger King's TV Spot: SpongeBob, Square Media

The Burger King's spot that riffs off "SpongeBob Square Pants" has many TV critics' knickers in a twist.

Here's how the ad goes: A husband emerges from a tub, still lathered with soap in the right areas, with a sponge on his head. He says to his wife: "Hey, honey. Guess who I am. Come on. Who am I? SpongeBob!" Then he gestures downward, below the view of the camera. "No pants."

His wife sarcastically deadpans: "Wow." And walks out of the room.

The commercial may be bathroom humor -- but contrary to some, it isn't directed to children. Few have talked about where the commercial is running. Rev. Donald Wildmon's trio of sites, including, complains that the spot is using "adult nudity" to appeal to children.

But Wildmon kills his own argument by writing this: "During the NCAA Championship game, Burger King's ad featured a dad taking a bubble bath in a family room." And what is the main target demographic for that TV show? Men 18-34 and 18-49 --- not children.



We don't know the full extent of the media plan -- but I'm pretty sure Burger King isn't running the ad during young-skewing Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network programming. (Since "SpongeBob" is a Nick show, we doubt the Cartoon Network is airing the spot).

The commercial isn't directed to kids, but to parents who have kids that like "SpongeBob." The chief concern is if kids are viewing the spot -- not adults who can digest the humor.

So what's the issue? The issue everyone can pick on -- that perhaps some children are watching it. That perhaps the spot ruins the possible innocence "SpongeBob" brings. But the commercial isn't hurtful. If kids are watching, all the humor will go over their heads.

Bob Garfield of Advertising Age writes: "It's not as though this is somehow erotic. It's not as though there is any prurient appeal intended or achieved. It's Dad being goofy, period."

And, again, consider the media plan of the campaign -- where is the spot running? Wildmon calls the spot adult nudity. Yet as far as I can tell, it's really a case of adult goofy.

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