Was Burger King smart to showcase moldy Whoppers?
In a dramatic example of reverse-advertising, Burger King launched a campaign showcasing a moldy, aging version of its iconic Whopper to support the chain’s shift away from preservatives and artificial flavors.
The unconventional marketing effort includes a TV commercial, “The Moldy Whopper,” showing an all-natural Whopper in a time-lapse video rotting over the course of 34 days. Dina Washington’s 1959 hit “What a Difference A Day Makes” plays in the background. By the end of the 45-second commercial, the Whopper is consumed by green fungus.
Burger King wrote on Twitter, “The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly.”
Burger King joins Chipotle, McDonald’s, Panera and others in removing artificial ingredients following a wider food industry trend towards natural and clean eating. McDonald’s switch last year from frozen to fresh beef led to a spike in burger sales for the first time in five years.
Burger King has removed artificial preservatives from the Whopper in most European countries and will do so across its U.S. restaurants by the end of 2020. The chain has already removed artificial colors and flavors from other core menu items.
Responses to the campaign on social media and elsewhere have run widely negative. Many said the campaign ruined their appetite.
“Food advertising has to have some ‘taste appeal,’ something that pleases the eyes and senses and make your mouth watery,” wrote Avi Dan CEO of Avidan Strategies, a marketing agency, on Forbes.com. Mr. Dan also said he isn’t sure preservatives in food are a big concern for Burger King customers.
But the campaign drew major attention. The ad has been viewed nearly 1.7 million times so far on YouTube. Restaurant Business also asked its Twitter followers about the campaign and found a few believing the shock was necessary to change perceptions. Wrote one, “It’s good. (1) We are talking about it. (2) QSR food has the perception problem that it is not real food due to the additives, this hits it on the head.”
- The Burger King Brand Shows That Mold Can Be a Beautiful Thing – Burger King
- The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly – Burger King/Twitter
- Brands Line Up To Respond To Burger King’s Moldy Whopper Campaign – Advertising Age
- Burger King thinks moldy Whoppers will get you to buy more burgers – CNN
- Burger King just launched a new ad campaign featuring a moldy Whopper, and it reflects a trend taking over the fast-food industry – Business Insider
- Can Burger King Sell Fast Food With This Baffling, Repulsive Ad – Forbes
- Was Burger King’s Moldy Whopper Ad A Winner? – Restaurant Business
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Was “The Moldy Whopper” campaign an effective way for Burger King to draw attention its rollout of preservative-free burgers? Do you see a better way to introduce the shift away from preservatives and artificial flavors?