Michel Gondry Creates a Burger King Ad That Touts New Research on Reducing Cow Flatulence & Climate Change

As every grade school­er knows (and delights in work­ing into con­ver­sa­tion), cows have a ten­den­cy towards flat­u­lence. At first this just deterred kids from going into ani­mal hus­bandry, but now those kids have come to asso­ciate the phe­nom­e­non of fart­ing live­stock with a larg­er issue of inter­est to them: cli­mate change. From cows’ rear ends comes methane, “one of the most harm­ful green­house gas­es and a major con­trib­u­tor to cli­mate change,” as Adam Satar­i­ano puts it in a recent New York Times arti­cle on sci­en­tif­ic research into the prob­lem. “If they were a coun­try, cows would rank as the world’s sixth-largest emit­ter, ahead of Brazil, Japan and Ger­many, accord­ing to data com­piled by Rhodi­um Group, a research firm.”

For some, such bovine dam­age to the cli­mate has pro­vid­ed a rea­son to stop eat­ing beef. But that’s hard­ly the solu­tion one wants to endorse if one runs a com­pa­ny like, say, Burg­er King. And so we have the Reduced Methane Emis­sions Beef Whop­per, the prod­uct of a part­ner­ship “with top sci­en­tists to devel­op and test a new diet for cows, which accord­ing to ini­tial study results, on aver­age reduces up to 33% of cows’ dai­ly methane emis­sions per day dur­ing the last 3 to 4 months of their lives.” The main effec­tive ingre­di­ent is lemon­grass, as any­one can find out by look­ing up the pro­jec­t’s for­mu­la online, where Burg­er King has made it pub­lic — or as the mar­ket­ing cam­paign stress­es, “open source.”

That cam­paign also has a music video, direct­ed by no less an auteur of the form than Michel Gondry. In it the Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind and Be Kind Rewind film­mak­er has eleven-year-old coun­try musi­cian Mason Ram­sey and eight oth­er West­ern-attired young­sters sing about the role of cow flat­u­lence in cli­mate change and Burg­er King’s role in address­ing it. All of this presents a nat­ur­al oppor­tu­ni­ty for Gondry to indulge his sig­na­ture hand­made aes­thet­ic, at once clum­sy and slick, child­like and refined. You may rec­og­nize Ram­sey as the boy yodel­ing “Lovesick Blues” at Wal­mart in a video that, orig­i­nal­ly post­ed two years ago, has now racked up near­ly 75 mil­lion views. Burg­er King sure­ly hopes to cap­ture some of that viral­i­ty to pro­mote its cli­mate-mind­ed­ness — and, of course, to encour­age view­ers to have a Reduced Methane Emis­sions Beef Whop­per “while sup­plies last.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Michel Gondry’s Finest Music Videos for Björk, Radio­head & More: The Last of the Music Video Gods

Film­mak­er Michel Gondry Presents an Ani­mat­ed Con­ver­sa­tion with Noam Chom­sky

Direc­tor Michel Gondry Makes a Charm­ing Film on His iPhone, Prov­ing That We Could Be Mak­ing Movies, Not Tak­ing Self­ies

The Coen Broth­ers Make a TV Com­mer­cial — Ridi­cul­ing “Clean Coal”

Watch Andy Warhol Eat an Entire Burg­er King Whopper–While Wish­ing the Burg­er Came from McDonald’s (1981)

McDonald’s Opens a Tiny Restau­rant — and It’s Only for Bees

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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