Popular fast food chain, Burger King, has been the subject of a great deal of ridicule since debuting a new commercial that very closely resembles a segment on comedian Billy Eichner’s hilarious show, Billy on the Street. The ad features a tall, dark-haired man approaching seemingly unsuspecting civilians on the street and asking them about Burger King’s new 10-piece chicken nugget deal. On Billy on the Street, Billy Eichner frantically runs around New York City catching pedestrians off guard by asking them questions for the reward of a dollar, or just simply bombarding them with pop culture-based statements.
Of course Eichner didn’t invent the “man on the street” shtick, but it’s hard to deny the many similarities between his show and the Burger King ad spot. Not only does the man starring in the commercial slightly resemble Eichner, but the Burger King spokesman uses the same over-enthusiastic demeanor and even emulates Eichner’s signature screaming, which elicits a response from the teenage boys featured in the advertisement. In particular, the commercial bears a striking resemblance to a segment called “The Price Just Feels So Right,” which aired on Billy on the Street during the show’s second season in February 2013. Both the commercial and the TV show bit involve passionately asking participants the cost of an item, whether it’s Eichner’s ceramic pitcher or Burger King’s chicken nuggets.
Clearly Burger King wanted to save some money by hiring an unknown actor to star in the new commercial, but the current controversy could have been avoided by approaching Billy Eichner himself to be in the ad. Eichner is no stranger to using is dramatic persona to hawk a product, as he was featured in a series of Verizon commercials earlier this year using his signature “on the street” style. Hopefully Burger King has learned its lesson: you can’t get away with copying someone’s personal brand in this social-media savvy day and age.