Burger King – Whopper Freak Out

An insight by Andrew Howie

Burger King had been a traditional advertiser for many years. They had always run similar campaigns and had achieved similar results.

Then in 2004 they undertook a radical change in strategy. They launched the ‘Subservient Chicken’ campaign to mark the arrival of the TenderCrisp chicken burger. It was a viral hit and this buoyed them to try more things different.

When the fast food chain posed the challenge to prove that the Whopper was the number 1 burger in America, there were several ‘safe’ ways this could have been done. They could have done some market research or filmed people in the street saying they love the Whopper. These would have all done the job but would have been pretty pedestrian.

Their advertising agency devised a plan far more cunning and far more interesting. They decided to remove the Whooper from the Burger King menu and film how people respond. The results were amazing. They were completely unscripted and unplanned. The first part of the experiment had people literally freaking out. They couldn’t understand how Burger King could stop serving their hero burger. The burger that had been on their menu for over 50 years.

In the second experiment, they offered people burgers from other restaurants. People did not want to eat other burgers. They wanted the Whopper that they came in store to get. And they were quite passionate about that. The campaign was hugely successful. Within weeks of its launch, the video had been viewed on Youtube over 1.3 million times. Whilst there was a huge viral component, it was also supported by a more traditional media buy. Watch the video below. Some of the reactions are priceless.