Customer surveys, focus groups and sales data
can tell you some things about what customers think of your product. But how
do you really gauge how deeply your customers care about it? Burger King’s
answer was to take that product away.
The company invented a curious fusion of
innovative market research approach and
In a stunt aptly named the “Whopper Freak-out!” Burger King made one of
their US branches a “Whopper Free Zone”. Using hidden cameras, they simply
recorded the reactions of their customers upon being told “Sorry, we no
longer serve Whoppers.” The contorted disbelieving faces told the company
more of a story than answers on a survey every could (watch the
In addition, the stunt and movie created a new
buzz about the company. Earlier Burger King launched a number of online buzz
marketing campaigns. One of them was a part of the "Angus Diet" effort for
its Angus burger.1 The site featured fictional self-help guru Dr.
Angus dispensing interactive "Angus Interventions", intended to be humorous
ways of stepping into a friend's life and reminding him that life should be
enjoyed. The site offered about 30 pre-made "interventions", which could be
tailored with a recipients name and other personal details. The user could
then email a link to friends that would bring them to a site where an
animated Dr. Angus would read the customized script using
Created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky of
'Subservient Chicken' fame, the interventions parodied the self-help
movement's use of affirmations by providing users with a list of humorous
alternatives – including '"Stop Spreading Companywide Emails" and "Stop
Wearing Underwear All The Time". Users could also submit their own
suggestions for new Interventions, which would be added.
As with Burger King's Subservient Chicken
campaign, the reasoning behind Angus Interventions was that people would
spread the word about this site because it was humorous, and because it was
customizable to fit their own lives, according to Jeff Benjamin, creative
director at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. "We learned from Subservient Chicken
that people want to be able to customize what's happening. When we
originally concepted it, we didn't have so much customization. We were going
to use real voice clips, but we decided it would be more interesting if Dr.
Angus could say what you wanted him to. The added customization made the
intervention make much more sense," he said.
The campaign was meant to be a
branding vehicle, but it's also meant to
work in concert with TV and radio spots to increase the Burger King brand
presence, Benjamin said. "You'll play with Dr. Angus online, then see a TV
spot, and that sort of brand presence means that much more to you. These
things are there to work together to sell in the long run."
Both 'Subservient Chicken' and 'Dr.
Angus' campaigns targeted the elusive and highly coveted segment of 18- to
34-year-old men, a group that is often considered resistant to traditional