Cara Hopkins' Blog

A Whopper of an Ad Campaign

Up until a couple of years ago, Burger King had no game. Then came those commercials featuring the new King, with his oversized plastic head and hipster hand gestures. He was campy, goofy and, let’s face it, pretty creepy. So what does this new King have that anyone in the naturals industry might possibly want to emulate?
For one thing: Street cred. For another, the attention of 150 million active Facebook users. Burger King’s latest ad campaign, Whopper Sacrifice, asked Facebook users to dump 10 of their Facebook friends in exchange for a free hamburger. All you had to do was install the Whopper Sacrifice application on Facebook, submit the 10 friends you wanted to lose and then watch as your former friends’ digital pictures were flame broiled on the website, The campaign launched on Jan. 5 and a week later, on Jan. 14, it was discontinued because Facebook said that it violated the site’s privacy policy. In all, 233,906 friendships were “sacrificed” in exchange for free Whopper coupons. The King’s makeover was courtesy of advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, with headquarters in Miami and Boulder, Colo. In the age of dead-pan humor, from Napoleon Dynamite to Flight of the Conchords, CP+B transformed an ailing brand into a media darling by not taking themselves too seriously and having the guts to nestle themselves right up against the boundaries of good taste. Bottom line: a little humor—especially the right kind of humor—goes a long way. I’m sure some people found the Whopper Sacrifice campaign and the other recent BK campaigns—such as Whopper Virgins, where far-flung global villagers who had never eaten a hamburger compared the Whopper to the Big Mac in a blind taste test—offensive. But the fact is, they work. Forget what your mom told you—in the era of social networking, this is a popularity contest. Those 23,000 folks who dumped their Facebook buds probably didn’t even want a Whopper, but they wanted to be part of something. The sad thing is that all of this hype is going toward fast food. Just imagine what the naturals industry could do with that kind of attention.

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