sacrifice your friends for free meat

This month, it will be six years since Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the Burger King business and started serving up quirky and viral campaigns that have been critically acclaimed by those in the ad biz. Coq Roq, Whopper Virgins, the Subservient Chicken, the resurrection of the “king” and more — it’s all from CP+B and has definitely brought the buzz to BK.

And yet — six years ago, Burger King was the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Today, Burger King is the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Advertising admired by the advertising community is not always the key to success.

But there’s part of me that actually likes the concept behind CP+B’s latest creation. It’s a Facebook application called Whopper Sacrifice. (Find the microsite at http://www.whoppersacrifice.com/)

Basically, you load the app; delete 10 of your “friends”; and BK sends you a coupon for a free Whopper. The app also lets those “friends” (please use airquotes) know they’ve been deleted for a burger to perpetuate the viral effect. It’s top notch Burger King classiness.

I think BK and CP+B have tapped into the Facebook backlash that’s simmering under the surface of the masses. Everyone has a few pieces of dead wood that they could let go.

And just in case you do actually need all your “friends” (airquotes again) or if you’re like me and just like to scam corporations doing little tricks like this — there’s already a group of people on Facebook who are willing to be your “friend” just to be sacrificed.

Obviously, there have been viral campaigns played out on Facebook before, but none aimed so directly at the Facebook experience. It will be an interesting one to watch.
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UPDATE 1/14/09: Facebook has removed BK as a friend – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/14/facebook-blows-a-whopper-of-an-opportunity/

You’re an idiot. Buy our stuff.

A new trend for the last few months in “me-too” marketing has companies telling their customers that they are stupid. From Burger King discontinuing the Whopper to Microsoft trying to convince people that Vista isn’t as bad as they think it is, there suddenly are an avalanche of “A-ha! I tricked the customer” campaigns bombarding the public.

Aside from the poor decision to imitate other campaigns (Got Milk, run amok), these ads are just bad on several levels. And the one that’s killing me most is Pizza Hut.

I’m about fed up with Pizza Hut anyway as they are the poster child for R&D train wrecks. There are only so many ways you can put cheese, sauce, and dough together. And guys, you ran out of variations a few years ago.

But this entire campaign, whether for the chocolate dunkers or for these pastas, says that “we have to trick people into eating our food”.

All of these trickery campaigns have a basic problem. They talk down to the people that they’re trying to get into the store. Hello potential customer! Did you know that we think you’re as bright as these morons who don’t know they’re eating “bacon flavored mac and cheese” in an Italian restauarant!?

Sure. 99% of a brand is perception. And if you have a large negative perception like with the MSFT Vista example, maybe you need to do something to rock the boat to challenge those perceptions.

On the other hand, if you have that large a negative perception, you’ve got bigger troubles with your brand than a cheesy ad campaign will fix.

Who are you marketing to?

Ah, it’s good to be the King. Or is it?

News that Burger King had a bad day on Wall Street got me thinking….What’s the relationship between marketing and Wall Street perfomance?

Crispin Porter + Bogusky have done a fabulous job with the creative side on the BK advertising. And not just the mass media ads. They have come up with some creative web memes and non-linear marketing that really has increased the TOMA for BK’s target demo.

The trouble is that there aren’t many of Burger King’s target demo working on Wall Street. “We make money the hard way…we visit Subservient Chicken” isn’t a slogan with the big brokers.

There’s a reason companies take out expensive-white-space-intense-full-page-ads in the Wall Street Journal that are full of corporate meaningless buzzwords….It’s to have TOMA with the movers and shakers on Wall Street.

“4th Quarter earnings down for InGenamon Corp, but I saw something in Tuesday’s WSJ that they’re preparing to create meaningful synergistic relationships with their core client base. I think earnings will rise for them. We’ll still recommend the buy.”

While BK’s marketing may be starting to have an effect on customers, I bet they drastically change course after this news to affect the stock. It will be a bad move in the long run.

Don’t please the stockbrokers. Please the customers. The stockbrokers will be happier in the long run.

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Surreal Spring Break Marketing


When these kids get back from Spring Break and develop their pictures, will it still seem like an alcohol/drug induced surreal hallucination?

The only thing odder would have been for the Subservient Chicken to be in the photos as well.

Burger King’s Spring Break promotion has a website to document the oddness.

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