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More and more brands are doing experiential marketing. Alcohol brands have made a lot of headlines for owning the experiential marketing game but the rest of the field is catching up. Fast.One brand in particular has caught our eye. Not just for the way it’s using experiential marketing but for what it’s achieving with it.
Which brand are we talking about? Burger King.
Why are Burger King experiential marketing campaigns making a big impression on us?
Partly because of the boldness of their campaigns – the fast food brand isn’t afraid to be disruptive. And in today’s hyper-sensitive, social media-driven marketplace, doing this successfully takes real skill.
Have a look at the Chick Fries and Whopper Neutrality experiential campaigns. Burger King engaged with two big political issues – not a move for the faint-hearted. They rolled out campaigns that actually involved making people confused and angry at their staff, policy and brand. Crazy, right? No, because the events were expertly done and struck a chord with people and enhanced the brand.
The Chick Fries campaign involved charging women more for fries just because they came in pink packaging. This was a statement on gender-based price discrimination and the pink tax in particular: women being charged extra for things such as personal care products, dry cleaning and vehicle maintenance.
The Whopper Neutrality was based around giving people options for how quickly they could receive their burger. If they paid the lowest price, they’d have to wait the longest time. Pay a premium and their burger would be ready immediately. The issue in the crosshairs this time was net neutrality: ensuring that internet service providers treat all transmission of data over the internet equally and do not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, etc.
The intelligence of these two successful campaigns lay, partly at least, in the way in which Burger King took two prominent issues and, using an experiential stunt, showed people how they could be impacted, through real-life, relatable situations. The campaigns were able to really connect with people and the experience of their everyday lives.
Which links nicely to the other main reason why we’re talking about Burger King experiential campaigns: the thinking behind the stunts shows that the company has grasped the true nature of experiential. To make experiential marketing work, it has to connect with the human experience, rather than what is perceived as the consumer one or the brand one. The human experience isn’t linear and doesn’t always fit nicely into a spreadsheet. It’s about context, values, behaviours, desires and emotions.
Consider the A Day Without a Whopper campaign in Argentina. Burger King created a campaign that told people to go to McDonald’s instead (!) because their rival was running McHappy Day, a campaign to help children with cancer. Or the King Popcorn campaign, which involved smuggling Whoppers into cinemas in Peru. Burger King hid the burgers at the bottom of bags of popcorn to help moviegoers following a change in legislation concerning food in cinemas.
What further draws attention to Burger King’s use of experiential marketing – not just in terms of cleverness – is what they’ve used it to achieve. Experiential marketing has been critical to the rejuvenation of the Burger King brand. It helped lift the brand out of a soggy malaise and instilled it with a new-found zing that it is using to really take the fight to its competitors (just look at what Burger King is up to in the wake of the Big Mac EU trademark ruling).
And Burger King shows no sign of hanging up its disruptive spurs. The brand kicked off 2019 with an online experiential stunt aimed at promoting a limited-time re-release of an old product that tricked social media influencers (following in the footsteps of Palessi and others).
Alcohol brands have some serious competition when it comes to experiential marketing.
All hail the King.