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A whopper about the Whopper

You’ve probably seen the ads: Burger King employees tell customers that the Whopper is no more. What?? The home of the Whopper has discontinued the Whopper?? Customers freak out, and Burger King eats up—and films—every minute of it.

One blogger says the ads are “breaking all the rules.” I’m not so sure. I thought the ad was clever when I first saw it, but then I gave it more thought. Burger King has been the home of the Whopper for 50 years, so of course customers would be shocked to hear that the company discontinued it. You’d get the same reaction if McDonald’s pulled the plug on the Big Mac, or if Starbucks stopped selling Frappuccinos.

According to a recent marketing newsletter, the ads are “using a negative situation to highlight the popularity of the Whopper.” True? It seems like a given that someone standing at the Burger King counter would be bummed to learn of the Whopper’s demise. But if you went into a McDonald’s and filmed reactions to the same statement, you might not think the Whopper was very popular (and for the record, I’ll take the Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr. over a Big Mac or the Whopper any day).

So back to the point: Is the ad “breaking all the rules” by lying to customers and then recording their reactions? Is Burger King clever for jumping on the YouTube/viral marketing bandwagon? Maybe. But I’m wondering if the ad campaign is just preaching to the converted.

What do you think? Julie Jares, managing editor

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January 14, 2008 - Posted by | Brand Marketing, Julie Jares, Web Content

4 Comments »

  1. I LOVE the Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr.!

    Comment by John | January 18, 2008 | Reply

  2. In ‘n Out. Only In ‘n Out.

    Comment by Selena | January 18, 2008 | Reply

  3. Do you really think those ads are real? I think not. Take a closer look; they’re spoofs. The clever marketing folks at BK are merely capitalizing on America’s reality TV obsession w/ a new marketing genre: the fictitious reality ad.

    Comment by Bill | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. I disagree with my friend and colleague Bill. I think they’re “real.” I mean, it’s obviously a marketing stunt, but I think those are real good old fashion Americans caught in a “candid camera” bit. Here’s the behind-the-scenes word: http://www.brandflakesforbreakfast.com/2007/12/how-to-produce-whopper-freakout.html

    Comment by John | May 22, 2008 | Reply


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