Burger King's 'Whopper Freakout' Marketing Campaign

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG239
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2007-2009
Pub Date : 2010
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Burger King Corporation
Industry : Fast Food
Countries : US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"What I find interesting about this [Whopper Freakout] campaign is that it makes a point of listening to customers, which I believe is a primary charge for marketers. I would go so far as to say that marketers need to be an internal customer advocate."1

- Roland Smart, consultant at Smart Method Consulting2 and Sr. marketing manager at Sprout3, in January 2009.

"The smart agencies are working to create a new set of rules because at critical times the only thing that really resonates is a drastic but very bold break from convention. That is exactly what happened with the Burger King Whopper Freakout and Coke Zero Lawyers campaigns - convention was broken in creative, not destructive, ways and the campaigns were wildly successful."4

- Miles Nadal, chairman and CEO of MDC Partners Inc.5, in 2008.

'Freaking Out' Customers

In June 2009, US-based fast food giant Burger King Corporation (Burger King) and Crispin Porter and Bogusky6 (CP+B) won the Grand Effie7 award for the 'Whopper Freakout' campaign. On receiving the award, Carl Johnson, chairman of the board of directors of Effie Worldwide Inc.8, said, "Burger King won the Grand Effie convincingly due to their boldness and creativity across multiple media platforms, delivering real cultural relevance and, above all, outstanding business results."9 The Grand Effie was one of the many awards that the campaign won since it was launched on December 9, 2007. Whopper Freakout was a viral marketing campaign launched by Burger King as an experiment to see how customers would react if they were told that the Whopper10 was being removed from the menu.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

Most of the customers were shocked to hear that their favorite burger had been discontinued. Their reactions were videotaped using hidden cameras and this was made into a 7 minute documentary that was posted on the Internet.

The campaign was launched to celebrate the Whopper's 50th anniversary. This was also a bid by the company to know whether the Whopper was America's most favorite burger. Burger King was well known for the innovative advertising campaigns it had run since the late 1950s. The most successful of all was its 'Have it Your Way' campaign launched in 1974, which encouraged consumers to order the burger the way they liked it.

'Freaking Out' Customers Contd... Next Page >>

1]Roland Smart, "Viral Campaign Listens to Customers Sort of …,” www.rolandsmart.com, January 12, 2009.

2]Founded in 1979, Smart Method Consulting is a San Francisco, California-based marketing & communication, research, and strategic consulting company.

3]Sprout is a San Francisco-based technology company that offers a design platform used by leading brands and agencies to create brand engagement campaigns and rich media content.

4]Dan Colarusso, "Adman Nadal Says Clients'Biggest Risk is Not Taking Enough Risk,” The Business Insider, April 8, 2009.

5]MDC Partners Inc., headquartered in Ontario, Canada is a holding company well known for its advertising holdings such as CP+B.

6]Founded in 1965, Crispin Porter and Bogusky is an advertising agency headquartered in Miami, Florida. It offers branded creative content and advertising services to its clients.

7]The Effie award is a prestigious advertising award given to companies to honor their noteworthy achievements in marketing communications.

8]Effie Worldwide Inc. was set up with the stated aim of offering information about the effectiveness and outcomes in marketing communications.

9]"Grand Effie Goes to 'Whopper Freakout',” www.campaignbrief.com, June 5, 2009.

10]Whopper is the signature product sold by Burger King. It is a burger with sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and tomato, and serves big appetites.

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