If fast food joints were comedians, Burger King would be one of the best for their marketing panache
On November 2, 2020, Burger King UK tweeted a picture, asking their customers to order from their archrival Mcdonald's. "We know, we never thought we'd be saying this either," the tweet read.
As the restaurant business took a blow due to the pandemic, Burger King's "friendly" gesture to support its rivals came off as empathetic. Burger King may want the customers to order from McDonald's as well as big and small joints all over - to help them sustain their businesses. But do not take this as a mere selfless move. This is not the first, nor the last time Burger King will try to outsmart its competitors through its messages of solidarity.
Burger King and McDonald's have been exchanging banter through promotional campaigns for a while. Burger King is to McDonald's what Pepsi is to Coca-Cola. While it is debatable whether you like a Big Mac or a Whopper, Burger King has a leg up when it comes to roasting its rival with a dash of witty comebacks and humour.
Here are five of Burger King's marketing campaigns that have become social commentaries of sorts.
1. Never trust a clown
In 2017, Stephen King's highly anticipated horror movie "IT" became a box-office phenomenon. The film, featuring a demonic clown, became an unusual subject of Burger King's clever marketing campaign.
At the premiere of the film in Germany, when the ending credits of the film were rolling, Burger King flashed two spotlights on the screen.
The first spotlight stated: The moral is, never trust a clown. The second said: Burger King.
The jam-packed audience struggling to respite as they just finished watching a scary movie, burst out laughing.
Burger King comically claimed that this was their longest ad ever. The joke was well-timed and a send-off to their rival McDonald's.
2. The McWhopper
In an unexpected gesture of unity, Burger King engaged McDonald's in another campaign called "The McWhopper." Instead of mockery, Burger King wanted to end the burger war between the two rivals for World Peace Day 2015.
Burger King proposed "McWhooper," an amalgamation of the two big burger brands of the companies, to be sold as one with proceeds going to charity. Despite a heartfelt letter to The New York Times by Burger King, McDonald's snubbed this offer.
This alone earned McDonald's a lot of criticism. For Burger King? Well, a massive surge in social media. Suffice to say, the PR stunt went well.
3. The Big King
For an ad for Burger King Brazil, the company upped its ante to mock McDonald's.
Burger King asked many McDonald's superfans to trade in their McDonald's tattoos for one with the Big King burger, one of their staple offerings.
Burger King flew the superfans to Brazil. The fans had the opportunity to be tattooed by celebrity artist Ami James.
4. Burn that ad
This one time, Burger King used augmented reality (AR) to roast McDonald's. The company made an app and asked users to use it in front of a McDonald ad. Activating the app, one would be able to burn the ads (in AR). Then the user will receive a free coupon and be directed to the nearest Burger King joint.
The campaign was an advertising win and spearheaded Burger King's signature humour.
5. Whopper Secret
In 2019, Burger King intensified its rivalry with McDonald's by claiming that their Big Whopper burger is better than the Big Mac Burger by McDonald's. The "Whopper Secret" revealed that there had been a Big Mac concealed behind every Whopper in a Burger King ad that year, but due to the bigger size of the Whopper, they had all been out of sight.
Too bad, Bangladesh is yet to get its first McDonald's store. The bustling fast food business in Bangladesh would have looked much spicier (and undeniably funnier) if Burger King Bangladesh had its archrival here.