In the early 1980s, Danish director Jørgen Leth filmed Andy Warhol eating a Burger King Whopper at his Factory in New York City. The footage, starring the affectless pop artist in a blue blazer and red tie, featured in Leth’s 1982 film, 66 Scenes from America.
This past Sunday, a 45-second clip of Whopper-eating Warhol aired in a Burger King commercial during the Super Bowl LIII. The ad’s hashtag implored viewers to #EatLikeAndy. Burger King’s global CMO Fernando Machado says the ad “truly elevates the Whopper to its iconic stature.”
“When we tried to get the rights from the foundation, they loved the idea because they felt it was true to him and something he would have done, in a way,” Juan Javier Peña Plaza, the executive creative director of the agency behind the commercial, told Adweek. “It’s about getting everyone to experience art.”
What the burger chain doesn’t want viewers to know is that Warhol’s stated fast-food brand preference was McDonald’s. “The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald’s,” the artist wrote in his 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. “The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald’s. Peking and Moscow don’t have anything beautiful yet.”
In a recent interview, Leth reminisced about Warhol’s reaction to “the Danes with the crazy hamburger project.”
“When he saw the three hamburgers I had ordered — one from Burger King and two neutral products — he said, ‘Where’s the McDonald’s? … It’s the nicest design,'” Leth says in the interview. To save time, Warhol deigned to eat the Burger King Whopper on camera, but judging by his blank expression, his heart wasn’t in it.