To Explain Net Neutrality, Burger King Made People Wait Longer For Whoppers

"We believe the internet should be like Burger King restaurants, a place that doesn’t prioritize and welcomes everyone."

Net neutrality is a difficult concept to explain, but Burger King's new ad seems to have found a way to get ordinary Americans to understand exactly what net neutrality is and how it will impact them. 

In the ad, which you can see below, customers are shown placing orders at Burger King. As time passes however, several patrons realize either Whoppers are missing from their orders entirely, or are taking an inordinate amount of time to prepare. As the increasingly angry customers approach the counter, Burger King staff point to the menu board and note that in order for a Whopper to be prepared in the standard amount of time, customers must pay $25.99. On the other hand, if you pay the normal Whopper price of $4.99, your burger won't be ready until about 20 minutes have passed.

As one Burger King cashier puts it in the ad, "Burger King Corporation believes that they can sell more and make more money selling chicken sandwiches and chicken fries, so now they're slowing down the access to the Whopper."


In this scenario, the Whopper is the Internet, and curtailing people's access to it is meant to convey how the Internet could change without net neutrality. Currently net neutrality provides equal and fair access to the Internet and forbids ISPs from intentionally blocking, slowing down or charging money for specific websites and online content, but the FCC voted to repeal it back in December. (It's worth noting that some critics believe the repeal of net neutrality won't change much, as the innternet i, as journalist Farhad Manjoo argued prior to the repeal in the New York Times.)

As the Burger King ad attempts to show, without net neutrality, equal and fair access would be threatened. "We believe the internet should be like Burger King restaurants, a place that doesn't prioritize and welcomes everyone," Fernando Machado, Burger King's global chief marketing officer, tells Ad Week. "That is why we created this experiment, to call attention to the potential effects of net neutrality."

The ad, which concludes by illustrating that this experiment actually helped people understand net neutrality, is reminiscent of a tweet the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published hours before the set of rules and regulations was formally repealed last month. In that tweet, the ACLU used pizza instead of burgers to explain net neutrality in relatable terms.

"Not sure why #NetNeutrality matters?" the tweet asked. "Imagine if your service provider could stop you from ordering Domino's online — by slowing down your connection or crashing your browser — because Pizza Hut is paying them."

Though Burger King's helpful ad comes more than one month after net neutrality was officially rescinded, Slate reports New York and Montana will keep the rules in place on a statewide level. Nationally speaking, lawsuits and/or Congress (with encouragement from Battle For the Net) might reverse the FCC's December decision, though it's seen as a long shot.

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