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Why Andy Warhol is Eating a Whopper in Burger King’s Strange New Ad

The 45-second commercial, instructing viewers to #EatLikeAndy, features vintage footage of the late pop artist

66 Scenes From America, 1982, film still. Courtesy: Instagram 

Have you ever wanted to watch an art icon gobbling a cheeseburger? Well, now you can. A new Superbowl commercial features decades-old footage of the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol peacefully unboxing and then eating Burger King’s signature ‘Whopper’.

The 45-second commercial, which ends with the hashtag #EatLikeAndy uses a segment of the 1982 film 66 Scenes From America by Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth – intended as a set of portraits of life in the US – which shows Warhol sitting down to eat the burger in near-silence for four-and-a-half minutes. In the original footage, the artist shakes a bottle of Heinz ketchup (muttering ‘it doesn’t come out’), packs the remains of his meal away, and declares: ‘My name is Andy Warhol, and I just finished eating a hamburger.’

‘The spot is meant to break through the traditional SuperBowl commercial break, filled with explosions, slapstick jokes and celebrities, with an almost silent, yet powerful work of art,’ the fast food giant claimed in a press statement.

Both The Warhol Foundation and Leth’s representatives granted Burger King permission to use the footage. Discussing their usage of the scene, the brand’s global head of brand marketing Marcelo Pascoa told AdAge: ‘One of the things that was unique about the negotiation was that we didn’t want to change or touch the film in any way that would take away from its original intent.’

In a 2014 interview, Leth revealed that Warhol had actually favoured McDonald’s instead: ‘When he saw the three hamburgers I had ordered, one from Burger King and two neutral products, he said, ‘Where’s the McDonald’s?’ I said we’d get one right away. ‘It’s the nicest design,’ he said. ‘Let’s not waste time on that. I’ll eat the Burger King.’’

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