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String music teachers unhappy with Burger King commercial

December 17, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Music teachers are unhappy with a Burger King commercial they say tells children that playing classical string instruments is a nerdy thing to do.

The Miami-based fast-food restaurant chain disagrees, saying it has no plans to pull the ad.

The commercial, which has been playing since November, shows a studious boy playing a cello poorly. But after a cartoon character zaps him and a visit to Burger King, the boy becomes a skilled electric guitarist.

The commercial drew the ire of The American String Teachers Association, which expressed its displeasure to Burger King but was told the company had no plans to withdraw the commercial.

Association president Edward H. Adelson said he told Burger King last week that the group was calling for a boycott of its restaurants until the ad was withdrawn and the group was assured the company wouldn’t repeat the depiction.

``This commercial tells kids that playing a classical instrument such as a cello is a nerdy activity, an uncool activity and something kids shouldn’t want to do,″ Adelson said.

He said it also suggests it only takes an instant to become a skilled guitar player.

But Burger King said in a statement its advertising is designed ``for both its entertainment value and its ability to reach our consumers.″

``As with any subjective medium, certain advertising messages may not appeal to some groups or individuals,″ it said.

Burger King also said the teachers’ group suggested the company ought to make a donation to one of the group’s programs.

Adelson said he suggested that Burger King could help counter the impact of its ad by making a donation of unspecified size to a program aimed at educating inner city students about classical string music.

The teachers are hoping to get word out about the boycott through its 50 state chapters. The group claims nearly 11,000 members and says they have a half million students across the country.

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