5 Lessons from Burger King’s Whopper Detour

PERSPECTIVE

By now, you’ve probably seen a Facebook post about Burger King’s very funny (and very effective) Whopper Detour. Maybe you were even persuaded to download BK’s app to claim your own 1 cent burger.

If you don’t know what we’re talking about, check out the whole story of Burger King’s latest campaign for yourself. Basically, Burger King convinced people to download its app and go to McDonald, all for a 1 cent Whopper. They’re calling this stunt “Whopper Detour” and we’re big fans.

This marketing stunt is funny, but it’s also effective. There are a lot of lessons businesses of all sizes can learn from this trick.

1. Know Your Customers

Burger King’s stunt worked because it reached the chain’s customers where they already were – McDonald’s. It turns out that people who eat at one fast food restaurant will eat at just about any fast food restaurant; they’re not picky. Because McDonald’s is the biggest name in the game, it was reasonable to assume that Burger King’s target audience was spending at least some of their fast food budget at Micky D’s.

Burger King knew where to find its customers, but how to get them to leave McDonald’s and head to BK? Free food, duh. There are some very interesting explanations for why people love free food. The bottom line is that we all do and Burger King’s customers are no exception. The good news for BK is that as a fast food chain, deep discounts are also on brand.

2. Use Technology in a Way that Makes Sense

We all love the latest and greatest. Sometimes incorporating flashy technology into ads “just because” ends up being a waste of time and money. But when maturing techniques are incorporated in smart ways, the rewards can be great.

Burger King used geotargeting to deliver marketing to people within 600 feet of a McDonalds. This helped the fast food giant reach their customers and add to the novelty of the campaign in a way that helped, rather than hurt.

3. Good Marketing Takes Time

It took Burger King, a huge company with tons of resources, a year to put this stunt together. Strategy, targeting, programming and distribution all take time. As Burger King CMO Fernando Machado put it, “We want the functionality to be working really well. Or else it backfires.”

4. Setting Quantitative Goals is Essential

You won’t know if a campaign is successful if you don’t have starting metrics and goals. Burger King is calling this marketing stunt a success, with more than 50,000 redemptions in the first day or so – 20 times more redemptions than any other BK app promotion.

The app is also now in first place in the App Store’s food and drink category, previously just making the top 10 in ninth place.

5. Value Extends Beyond Immediate Sales

While having quantitative goals is essential, success can reach far beyond sales and initial app downloads. For Burger King, the Whopper Detour means more users with the app installed on their phones. BK can now push additional notifications to these users, reminding them of future promotions, news and nearby restaurants.

A campaign as good as this one also means press coverage, which leads to further awareness of the campaign. Burger King didn’t need to pay for the campaign to reach us. We saw it on Facebook and CNN, rather than through a geotargeted ad or notification.

This is good news for a company of any size. Press coverage isn’t reserved for big corporations. Even small businesses can have their latest campaign covered by local media if it’s newsworthy!

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