Burger King’s rivalry with its largest rival, McDonald’s, stretches back decades, with the smaller chain often using its challenger role as a reason to skewer the Golden Arches with snarky marketing tactics.
Remember when Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” campaign lured fans all the way to McDonald’s just to unlock a 1-cent Whopper coupon and then drive away? Or when Burger King’s ads about “clown-free birthday parties” used real pictures of kids crying to poke fun at Ronald McDonald and his fellow clowns?
While McDonald’s typically doesn’t take the bate, its Belgium operation did strike back once with (lukewarm) outdoor ads asking: “Served by a king, or served as a king?” To which Burger King replied with an ad saying “Why try to roast when you can’t even flame grill?“
Agency Uncle Grey in Denmark has made the latest move in this lighthearted marketing war with a new social media campaign targeting McDonald’s customers who have left complaints and comments on the brand’s Facebook page.
Titled “The Whopper Reply,” the tongue-in-cheek activity saw Burger King’s customer service agents targeting McDonald’s fans by replying to their messages with a funny answer and a link to redeem a free Whopper.
On Sept. 24, Burger King scrolled back through more than 1,000 comments McDonalds fans in Denmark had made stretching back days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years.
Burger King said it jumped in and decided to “lend a helping hand” because its “closest competitor was not quite on point when it comes to online customer service.” The wider goal of the marketing activity was to promote Burger King’s investment in its own customer service, along with its new pledge to answer all queries on Facebook within 48 hours.
“Customer service is a big part of the entire guest experience, and we haven’t been doing a good enough job in taking care of our guests online,” said Daniel Schröder, marketing director at Burger King Sweden and Denmark. “When addressing this, we realized there are even more burger fans out there that deserve a reply. We did what we can to help out, hoping some flame-grilled Whopper love can help make things better again,”
Burger King global CMO Fernando Machado has been ratcheting up efforts to gently mock the golden arches since he joined in 2014. He told Adweek last year that the key is poking the bear without hitting below the belt and that its efforts to make fun of McDonald’s were successful as a result of the brand’s fun, lighthearted and self-deprecating personality.
Earlier this year, that rivalry was temporarily cast aside in a campaign by TBWA/Helsinki to celebrate Pride in Finland by showing the Burger King and Ronald McDonald mascots in a loving embrace. The campaign, titled “Love Conquers All,” was commissioned by Burger King and unveiled in outdoor and print advertising as well as on social media.
“Burger King has always stood for equality, love and everyone’s right to be just the way they are,” Burger King Finland brand manager Kaisa Kasila said in the statement at the time. “The only instance where it might not seem so is when we’re bantering with our competitor.”
Client: Burger King Denmark
Creative agency: Uncle Grey Denmark
Creative directors: Lars Samuelsen, Andreas Hoff, Magnus Breum
Agency planner: Lars Samuelsen
SoMe team: Camilla Andersen, Newsha Dalman, Maria Bianca, Cecilie Larsen, Valdemar Mühlhausen, Gustav Thuesen, Linea Fabricius
Digital strategist: Johan Thrane
Community manager: Marcus Voldum
COO: Charlotte Porsager
Account manager: Regitze Borgaard
PR: Marie Elbæk
Animations: Mathias Nielsen, Jesper Hellvik