Friday, January 09, 2009

Burger King - King of the Viral?

Burger King has arguably done it again - create a viral marketing campaign that's wildly popular. This time, it's Whopper Sacrifice. The idea behind this campaign: dump 10 of your friends on Facebook, get a free Whopper.

But this isn't the first time they've done this. Nope, I remember back in April of 2004, Burger King announced the Subservient Chicken Website. To show that you could have chicken Your Way, they provided a site where you could type in commands ("jump up and down") and a guy in a chicken suit would respond.

Sounds silly, but it was pretty impressive in terms of creativity and hilarity.

If you look at these two campaigns, they share some common elements:

  • They are both quite unique. Sure, you could use Facebook to send your buddy a burger or something - but the whole idea of deleting friends, that's whacky. And a guy in a chicken suit, online, to advertise chicken? Seriously, who thinks of this stuff. Once Burger King came out with their campaigns, others followed suit - but it was too late, Burger King had been first.
  • They are both demonstrate technical difficulty. Nowadays we think nothing of video on the web, but the idea of streaming video in '04 was still novel. In general, both campaigns have a How'd they do that?! feel to them.
  • Both campaigns are risky. There's something fundamentally naughty about ordering around a guy in a chicken suit. And ditching your friends, that's hardly nice. But, this risk has certainly paid off. Burger King is dealing with this riskiness now with their latest TV campaign - and maybe it backfires.

So there you have it: unique, a technical tricky and risky. I'm not sure if that's the recipe for a winning viral campaign, but it seems like a good start.


  1. That's awesome! Ever since Burger King became "BK" and used the King to advertise I have fallen in love with their marketing efforts. They completely blow the golden arches out of the water. I love the new "Angry Whopper" they are promoting which is essentially a spicy version of the whopper. I need to try it.

  2. Jordon -

    Yeah, I'm amazed - you wouldn't think a big company like BK would take the kind of marketing risks they do. But, it works for them.