Seattle burger joint Lunchbox Laboratory sent out an email about a promotional deal coming up on Easter Sunday, which also happens to be April 20, or 4/20, with an image that appears to be Jesus smoking pot.
“When I get back all I want is the Burger of the Gods,” says a caption on the ad for a two-for-one burger deal on Easter Sunday.
The ad depicts a figure that appears to be Jesus holding a burger and a joint, with the 4/20 date highlighted in green.
Lunchbox Laboratory owner John Schmidt tells KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the company has a sense of humor and they often push the envelope with their advertising.
“We knew we were pushing it a little bit but at the same time that is kind of what our marketing is about.”
In the vein of pushing the envelope, Monson asked Schmidt if he would ever post an image of Mohammed or Martin Luther King smoking a joint, or if this type of imagery was reserved for Christian icons. Schmidt said they don’t discriminate in who they target in their advertising.
“No one group is sacred,” he said. “Do you ever watch South Park where they parody everybody and every religion and pretty much anything?”
“We’re looking for people to be talking about our marketing,” said Schmidt. “You talking about us on the air is the grand slam, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I honestly am not trying to offend you as a Christian.” Schmidt said adding that he is a practicing Catholic.
But Monson was offended and said while he would never stand in the way of a company’s right to distribute such a message, it does impact the way he feels about them.
“It’s your free speech. I defend your right to send out this ad. I would never suggest that you should never be allowed to do something like that, but as a customer, my free speech exercise is I would choose to not go and patronize your place anymore because of that.”
Schmidt said he’s not sure his priest would be OK with this message, but that part of his job is getting people’s attention and sometimes that involves pushing the limits.
“This is a very competitive marketplace, Seattle has 50 new restaurants open up a year – I have to get my name out there and I have to make decisions that sometimes may possibly go too far,” said Schmidt. “I maybe went too far on this one.”