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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


January 14, 2008 Posted by | Brand Marketing, Julie Jares, Web Content | 4 Comments

Marketing the Simpsons

In a clever, highly publicized guerilla marketing campaign for The Simpsons Movie, due out this Friday, 12 7-Eleven convenience stores were converted into Kwik-E-Marts. The stores were unveiled on July 1st in the United States and Canada.

An ABC News article quotes Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade Marketing Group, praising the promotion: “Among ‘Simpsons’ fans this conversion is sure to enhance their perceptions of 7-Eleven as a cool place to shop. What is really clever about this is the blending of reality and fiction.”

As traditional marketing methods give way to more creative approaches, the fact/fiction blur is happening more and more. It’s also not without precedent, though past gimmicks seem more about capitalizing on a movie’s success rather than promoting it beforehand. I’m thinking about Wonka chocolate bars (courtesy of the 1971 movie) and the more than two dozen locations of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which we can blame on Forrest Gump.

I avoid Bubba Gump, but I admit I’m tempted to check out a Kwik-E-Mart. What’s odd about this is that I’ve never been a Simpsons’ devotee. I laugh when I watch it, but it’s a take-it-or-leave-it show for me. So why am I considering driving 40 miles to Mountain View just to shop at a Kwik-E-Mart? I hadn’t even heard of Krusty-O’s cereal until a few weeks ago. It’s a marketing gimmick, yet I’m intrigued. And apparently I’m not the only one. According to Wikipedia.com, the redesigned 7-Eleven stores are showing a 30 percent increase in profits. The proof is in the pudding—doh!—I mean the donuts.

But here’s the real question: Will the promotion encourage me to see the movie? Probably not. So if I buy a six-pack of Buzz Cola at the Kwik-E-Mart but I don’t see the film, is the promotion still a success? Post a comment and let me know what you think. —Julie Jares, managing editor

July 24, 2007 Posted by | Brand Marketing, Julie Jares, Target Audience | Leave a comment