The premise of the commercials is that only people completely unexposed to McDonald’s and Burger King’s advertising--and who in some cases have never heard of hamburgers--can offer unbiased opinions on which burger is best. I wonder, however, if such people can give informed consent to participating in an advertising campaign.
The advertisement is problematic for several reasons. First, the campaign describes traditional people in terms of what they lack. The people are described as isolated, but isolated in relation to what? All peoples are known to their neighboring cultures and isolated from more distant ones. Yet somehow a New Yorker isn’t considered isolated for not having relationships with or deep knowledge of Greenlanders, Thais or Romanians while people whose networks don’t include First World communities are deemed isolated.
In the commercials, the participants’ unfamiliarity with hamburgers is subtly mocked. For example, the people administering the taste tests don’t show the participants how to pick up hamburgers--they just let the camera linger contentedly on the awkward and “incorrect” attempts of the participants trying to eat an unusual food. Traditional peoples are deemed shockingly strange if they are unaware of hamburgers, while First World peoples aren’t required to know the existence of, much less the proper way to eat, mamaliga or Khao suai.
The Burger King commercials also echo colonial tropes. First World peoples have gifts to bestow on unenlightened traditional peoples, and these gifts are seen as significant even if they are cheap and unhealthy hamburgers. Never do these fast food missionaries stop to think about approaching these traditional peoples as equals, tasting their food and learning from their cultures. Ultimately the traditional peoples in the Burger King commercials are treated the same way those of us in Indian country often are--as living on the periphery of the only world that matters (the Westernized First World), as amusingly quaint, charmingly dressed and ultimately doomed.
For more on the subject, see Eskimos: The Ultimate Aborigines and the Stereotype of the Month contest.