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Love-Hate Relationship: Burger King and McDonald’s

17 Dec 2020 | STORIES | 0 Comment
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Who doesn't know these two global fast-food chains? Both of them are popularly known for their burgers; Burger King with its Whopper, and McDonald's with its Big Mac. According to an entry on Wikipedia, McDonald’s is the second largest fast-food chain in the world with 38,695 stores, while the top spot belongs to Subway with 42,600 stores. Not too far behind is Burger King that came in fifth on the list of world’s largest fast-food chains with 18,838 stores. 


The rivalry between the two fast-food chains can get so fierce that it often spills to their marketing campaigns that are mostly designed to take a shot at one another. Yes, I used the word “mostly” because it is not always the case. There are also times when they actually show love and respect for one another.


This type of banter between brands could be amusing to observe. However, we should not expect to see it here in Indonesia. Well, at least not for now. In the book of Ethics Pariwara Advertisements 2014 issued by the Indonesian Advertising Council, article 1.20 states that an advertisement must not degrade a competitor's product, while article 2.30.3 stipulates that an advertisement may not appear to lead to a comparison with a competitor's product. 


Back to the rivalry between the two global giants, let's take a look at several Burger King campaigns and social media posts that have succeeded in reaping positive responses from the public towards the brand image in recent years.


  • Burn That Ad

Utilizing AR (Augmented Reality) technology, this ad campaign titled "Burn That Ad", allows any Burger King application user to burn Burger King competitor ads, including McDonald’s, with virtual fire. To use it, users only need to open the Burger King application and point the camera on their smartphone at Burger King's competitor ads, whether in the form of brochures, coupons, advertisements in magazines, or billboards.


Automatically, the screen on the smartphone will burn the advertisement and replace it with an advertisement image from Burger King which is also a coupon that can be exchanged for a Whopper burger at the nearest Burger King shop. This ad campaign was created specifically to promote the BK Express application for all Burger King customers in Brazil. BK Express itself is an innovation from the company that allows customers to pre-order and avoid long queues.


  • A day without Whopper

In 2017, Burger King drew public attention with the “A Day Without Whopper” campaign. This campaign was issued by Burger King in response to a campaign by McDonald's to raise funds to help cancer fighters. This campaign is conducted by McDonald’s every year, where consumers donate US$ 2 or Rp28 thousand for every Big Mac purchase. The campaign applies to 107 McDonald’s outlets in Argentina.


Instead of competing with McDonald’s campaign, Burger King deliberately didn't sell Whopper in one day so that people would buy McDonald's Big Mac. As we know, Whopper is the best selling product from Burger King. From the poster posted by Burger King, you can see the image of The King - the mascot of Burger King - holding hands with Ronald McDonald's, showing Burger King's support for McDonald's fundraising. As a result, McDonald’s managed to sell 73,437 Big Macs in one day, exceeding sales in 2016.


The Burger King campaign received appreciation from the public for bravely showing support for competitors. However if we see from a broad perspective, Burger King actually took advantage of this moment to get a positive image of its brand. Quoting Solomon Thimothy’s article on Forbes.com, the more often you can deliver on your brand promise with a strong brand image, the easier it will be for consumers to remember your brand and what it stands for.


  • Order from McDonald’s

Recently, Burger King has been reaping public conversation because of its Instagram post which encourages people to buy burgers from its competitor, McDonald's. Almost similar to the previous Burger King campaign, the message that conveys through this post is a support for other players in the same industry, which is fast food.


By taking advantage of a moment where the world is currently in crisis because of Covid-19, Burger King takes the opportunity to bring good value to its brand. This content contains social currency because it involves the emotions of readers who are also facing the same issue, thus encouraging readers to share on their networks. Once again, Burger King has earned media with a very wide reach for a cost of zero rupiahs.


Quoting the Kantar Covid-19 report, What Do Consumers Expect From Brands, people expect brands to be able to provide real value, ethically deliver the real value, act responsibly, and do good things for their communities including their employees. Lastly, as a PR practitioner, I find these campaigns by Burger King are genius. How brands can take advantage of a difficult situation - not just for some people but all over the world - to increase a positive image with minimum cost, but manage to get wide coverage in return.


So, what do you think about these Burger King campaigns? Do you have any other interesting marketing campaigns to share? If so, please write on the comment box below.

Written by: Christina Novalita
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