Thanks to the success of the Joker movie, the now famous Bronx steps have become an Instagram-able tourist destination, to the chagrin of many locals just trying to get to work.
Riding on the coat tales of this meme-fueled furor, Burger King took the opportunity to create some local goodwill (while taking a jab at its main clown-mascotted rival) by offering Bronx residents a free Whopper, delivered by UberEats, as a consolation for having to deal with the rapid influx of Joker-stair tourists AKA clowns (burn).
Why it’s hot:
Brands are desperate to be a part of pop culture, and this campaign finds a low-risk, nonpolitical way to catch the viral wave, with little investment.
Rides on the pop-culture success of Joker, but comes at it from a snarky, unpredictable angle.
Multinational fast-food chains conforming their menus to cultural tastes is as old as Pulp Fiction’s Royal Cheese. Agency Superson helped Burger King Finland take this to another level, playing off the stereotype of shy Finns. Understanding it as an experience product, Burger King applied this concept to the drive thru, nodding to the common Finnish sensibility of reticence.
The brief was to increase app use, so they reconfigured the ol’ stand-by of the drive thru, to show how fast and easy it was to order via their app.
The spot is playful and funny, placing fast-food ordering into the realm of a clandestine caper.
And it turns out, it’s not just the Finns who resent talking to the muffled voice of the drive-thru.
Why it’s hot: Nodding to local culture inherently endears customers to the brand. The sense of collective understanding, and feeling known is a powerful bonding agent.
The drive-thru model didn’t align with the value proposition of the app, wherein you could order ahead and pick-up, so rethinking the model required a relatable story to encourage users to do the same.
Just as we were emerging from the US fast food Chicken Wars, another battle is now raging in the ongoing war between McDonald’s and Burger King. You probably remember the much-celebrated Whopper Detour of 2018. Well, Burger King Germany now brings you “Escape the Clown”. To coincide with the movie IT 2’s release, Burger King placed an ad in a movie magazine found in McDonald’s stores. People could scan the ad through the Burger King app to activate an AR experience leading to a coupon for a one-cent Whopper at a nearby BK. The coupon was only good for a finite amount of time, so customers would have to decide quickly.
Why it’s hot:
Sometimes you play nice, sometimes you can make a savage move. Placing an ad in a magazine at McDonald’s, and hijacking customers, when they’re literally at the point of sale, is about as savage as it gets in marketing. The fact they concealed it with AR is nice, but I’m not sure it was altogether necessary. And I’m not sure how anyone would know to look in the magazine and scan the ad before they would have already ordered a Big Mac. Either way, it’s certainly bold. Even if people don’t go to buy a Whopper, at least they could have had a brand experience that might affect their next fast-food dining decision. The kind of move that can leave an impression, and also land your app on someones phone (not to be lost here).
Burger King’s latest attack on McDonald’s is tapping into the upcoming release of the IT prequel with its new Escape the Clown campaign, an interactive campaign that targets McDonald’s customers in Germany using AR and geo-tagging. Playing on popular culture, Burger King successfully stole its rival’s customers at point of sale (kind of a big deal) and drove app downloads.
Burger King placed an AR-enabled advertisement in a film-themed magazine found in McDonald’s restaurants. Customers were prompted to download the BK app in order to scan the advertisement and access an Escape the Clown coupon for a one cent Whopper at the nearest Burger King. The app gave directions to the nearest restaurant and a countdown began, encouraging customers to leave McDonald’s restaurants (and escape the clown) immediately.
Burger King also used geo-targeting to invite McDonald’s customers to seek out the magazine and scan the app in targeted ads on Facebook and Twitter.
Why it’s hot: While not a new tactic for Burger King, in fact, it’s become a bit expected, by targeting customers who are already in McDonald’s restaurants, this campaign reaches its audience at the point of purchase, which in this category would’ve been an all-is-lost moment. Burger King also gamified a discount by positioning it as a challenge (get to the nearest Burger King before the countdown times out), which added an element of urgency and excitement to the offer. Not to mention that the many app downloads it generated are now also a new data source to help inform the King of other opportunities to conquest its rival.
On April 1st, 2019, Burger King introduced a meatless burger to the menu: the Impossible Whopper. They duped several BK customers and filmed their reactions to eating a fake Whopper.
April Fools, right? Wrong.
Burger King really is beta testing the plant-based Impossible Whopper at several locations around St. Louis.
Why It’s Hot
It’s hot because BK picked a day when they knew everyone would be on the lookout for April Fool’s stunts. They knew they were going to get attention on April 1st and took advantage of it to introduce a new product.
Via AdAge – “The brand’s statement claims that BK “decided to use high-end computing resources and big data to train an artificial neural network with advanced pattern recognition capabilities by analyzing thousands of fast-food commercials and competitive reports from industry research.” Burger King goes so far as to say that more than 300 commercials were created and tested in focus groups and says the ads will be the first ones created by an A.I. to air on national TV.”
But in reality, Burger King says it’s actually work done by real creatives, mocking the excitement around technology like AI.
According to BK, “we need to avoid getting lost in the sea of technology innovation and buzzwords and forget what really matters. And that’s the idea,” Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King’s global head of brand marketing, tells Ad Age in an emailed statement complete with the word “idea” in all caps. “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person.”
Why it’s hot:
Is Burger King right here?
The spots they have created feel they could have been generated by even some primitive artificial intelligence. Japan’s “AI Creative Director” was more than a year ago, and its work was actually not far off from what you’d expect from a real creative. There seems to be a point missing here that AI is not meant to replace people, but to help people. Attempting to make a joke about the enthusiasm around technology, it seems Burger King might have actually shown us a glimpse at advertising’s future.
Many people might not understand or care about the consequences of the repeal of net neutrality. To help people understand this issue, Burger King created Whopper Neutrality, an real-life experiment with actual guests in the store, making them experience the consequence in terms of a whopper.
Why it’s hot: Influential brands taking a stance to increase awareness to a social issue – treat all data on the internet as equal as we’d like to be treated equally as whopper buyers.