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Burger King offers 'Proud Whopper' to celebrate gay rights - same burger as regular Whopper

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Burger King is celebrating gay pride with a message on its Whopper wrappers.

The fast-food chain says it will post a video online Wednesday that shows scenes from a San Francisco location where it sold a "Proud Whopper." Customers were not told what is in the burger, which comes wrapped in rainbow paper. Once opened up, a message inside the wrapper states, "We are all the same inside."

The idea is that the Proud Whopper is no different from the regular Whopper, despite its colorful packaging.

The marketing effort is part of Burger King's push to connect with customers in a more meaningful way, particularly with the younger individuals fast-food chains are known for courting. As part of that push, Burger King recently said it was retiring its "Have It Your Way" slogan in favour of the more personal "Be Your Way" (Ad Age pointed out the phrase was "grammatically challenged").

Whether the new approach can help Burger King Worldwide Inc. boost sales remains to be seen. The company, based in Miami, was acquired and taken private by 3G Capital in 2010. The Brazilian private investment firm took the chain public again in 2012 in a deal that allowed it to retain a majority stake while more than recouping its investment.

3G has been trying to revitalize Burger King's image and menu ever since with mixed results in the U.S., where traditional fast-food chains have struggled amid competition from newer players such as Chipotle. Last year, Burger King's sales at established North American locations slipped 0.9 per cent.

The chain says the "Proud Whopper" video was shot over the past weekend in San Francisco, near where the city held its 44th annual gay pride parade. Fernando Machado, who heads global brand management for Burger King, said in a phone interview the "Proud Whopper" will remain on the menu until Thursday.

A rough cut of the two-minute video shows confused customers asking about the Proud Whopper, trying to figure out what makes it different, then later grasping what is happening.

"I think this wrapper means we all have the same rights," a young child explains.

"A burger has never made me cry before," says a young woman.

Another young woman uses an expletive to explain that it's same stuff inside. The video also shows some negative reactions, including a man who says the chain will no longer have his business.

Burger King said the video was developed by the ad agency DAVID, and directed by Henry Alex Rubin, who also directed the film "Girl, Interrupted."

Other food companies have also recently shown support for gay individuals, including Oreo-cookie maker Mondelez International Inc., which featured a gay couple in an ad for Honey Maid graham crackers, and Coca-Cola Co., which featured a gay couple in its Super Bowl ad.

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Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi

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