Burger King’s New Ad Campaign Turning Heads

In recent years, Burger King’s advertising has been dominated by a guy in a giant “king” head turning up in various places offering strangers food, a concept that some found funny and others found creepy. Now, Burger King’s marketing department is pushing things even further, turning heads and raising eyebrows with its latest in-your-face campaign.

The latest ad, which is capturing attention in both Europe and the U.S., features Burger King’s signature Whopper sandwich covered in mold. The message, Burger King says, is that the brand is in the process of removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper. Translation: our burger is healthier, fresher, and will taste better. On social media, where interactive media is a must, Burger King is blowing up Twitter feeds with a timelapse video of a burger decaying in “real time.”

The campaign was a risk, especially in the knee-jerk, insta-reaction culture of social media. Many people expressed disgust and revulsion at the initial imagery. But, then the ad circulated enough for people to grasp what was being communicated, and the negativity began trending toward awareness of what was being said. One of the biggest fast food burger chains in the world was making a big shift toward better food.

As of February 21, the change is only in effect in around 400 of the brand’s 7,346 U.S. stores, as well as many across continental Europe. However, the gradual rollout allows the company to troubleshoot any potential issues while maintaining a consistent positive narrative position for at least the remainder of the year. Fans interested in the shift will continue checking to see if their local Burger King store has made the change, creating a lot of extra interest and earned media for the chain from coast to coast.

The brand is already teasing this news, promising that, by the end of 2020, every food item on the menu – sandwiches, sides, and desserts – will no longer have artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives across the U.S. and in “select” European cities.

This announcement comes on the heels of a move by industry leader McDonald’s promising to remove all artificial preservatives from at least seven of its most popular menu items. These parallel announcements signal a change in the fast food industry, which has been losing market share to so-called “fast casual” restaurants that offer better-quality food in a timely manner.

While many consumers still want fast and cheap over tasty, millions have voted with their wallets to put a higher priority on taste and quality. This consumer trend forced big names in fast food, like McDonald’s and Burger King, to rethink their unique value propositions. Item one: shift public perception of the quality of their food and getting rid of artificial preservatives should be a popular step in that direction.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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