December 12, 2018
Burger King Pokes the Competition With New Promotion
In recent years, fast food brands have been frantically jockeying for position in a consumer market that is showing more of a taste for tacos and “fast casual” dining, in lieu of fast food burgers and fries. Wendy’s has grabbed market share with witty social media campaigns and well-managed messaging around their “fresh never frozen” message.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s, after earning some negative headlines for parting ways with the Olympics, has been gaining ground by promoting their fresh, not frozen, Quarter Pounder. Sure, the company got some snide social media commentary from Wendy’s about the “never frozen” announcement, but it’s been a winner so far.
Enter Burger King.
Not content to fall into third place and end up an also-ran in the fast food burger market, Burger King has unleashed a clever social media campaign that both encourages people to download the company’s smartphone app and get a dig in at McDonald’s at the same time. Here’s how the campaign is being reported to work:
“If a customer is within 600-feet of a McDonald's they can unlock a deal for a penny Whopper using the Burger King app. The app then offers directions to a nearby participating Burger King, where you can pick up the discount burger.”
So, in other words, customers must go near a McDonald’s, open the app, download the deal… then leave McDonald’s and go to Burger King. While there’s no reports, yet, on how many downloads of the app this has produced, a lot of people are making hay about it online, and that, more than anything, is Burger King’s goal. They need people talking about the brand as much as they need people cashing in penny burger deals.
While competitors have tried similar programs to get consumers to download their app — McDonald’s offered $1 fries and Wendy’s frequently offers app-based deals — Burger King is getting a lot of credit for a creative way to both gain customers and playfully poke at the competition.
This can be a strong marketing and PR tool, because, as many market watchers have reported, fast food customers are not necessarily as brand loyal as they are with other consumer products. Fans of one restaurant will often choose convenience over brand when faced with limited options or proximity decisions.
That said, Burger King has been falling behind lately… and the company clearly realizes it. Strictly going by sales numbers, Burger King is slowing, while McDonald’s, after a few years in a slump, is headed back up. The brand recently announced the rollout of self-order kiosks in certain locations, something other brands did years ago.
At this point, it appears Burger King does still have some time to close the widening gap if it can win back customers who have been eating elsewhere. The clever app campaign that got a lot of people talking is one step in the right direction.
-5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian