Saturday, October 21, 2017

Did Henry-Alex Rubin unintentionally bully Burger King's customers?

When a company creates an advertisement, it has to decide who the audience is.

One would think that the audience would be potential customers.

But sometimes the audience is someone else - employees at other ad agencies, influential press, or other people who are clearly not customers.

Take the example that I cited in 2013, in which a frozen yogurt company launched a Snapchat-based campaign which got loads of coverage on Ad Age and Mashable. As far as I could tell, however, they ended their Snapchat focus fairly quickly, meaning that the yogurt chain's own customers couldn't benefit. (Yes, they returned to Snapchat a couple of years later, but kinda sorta forgot to link to their Snapchat account on their website. Marketing is hard.)

So now there's another ad that is being talked about and is probably going to get a lot of industry awards and things. Yes, I'm talking about the Burger King ad.

In case you haven't seen the video yet, here's how Burger King describes it.

Scrawny. Short. Ugly. Fat. Weird. 30% of school kids worldwide are bullied each year and bullying is the #1 act of violence against young people in America today (Source: The BURGER KING® brand is known for putting the crown on everyone’s head and allowing people to have it their way. Bullying is the exact opposite of that. So the BURGER KING® brand is speaking up against bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month.

In the BURGER KING® brand Bullying Jr. experiment, more people stood up for a bullied WHOPPER JR.® than a bullied high school Jr. Visit to learn how you can take a stand against bullying.

Basically what they did is to stage a situation. Teenage actors portrayed a kid being bullied, and the other kids who were bullying him. Most of the customers didn't notice.

Meanwhile, the Burger King workers were smashing Whopper Jrs. with their fists and giving them to customers. Most of the customers DID notice.

The ad has received deserved praise from various people, but it appears that the key constituency was not consulted.

Burger King customers.

Now the YouTube video is getting positive comments - here's a portion of one.

I don't eat at BK I don't like the food but at the same time in a world that is full of public stunts that are designed to humiliate others this one stands out as different and shows people how selfish people are by being only willing to speak out when it effects themselves but no one has the guts to stand up for someone else. Burger King is showing they have the guts and the hate people are showing shows that this world is ruled by bullies. If you do nothing your a secondhand bully so stand up for people that are being bullied.

Re-read that. The person doesn't eat at Burger King, loves the commercial...but still won't eat at Burger King.

And the video is also getting negative comments. Here's one (profanity excluded):

Nice way to bully your customers, BK.

Like, no really. I may not have time to put up with your BS.

[EXPLETIVE DELETED] bullying, but that's a stupid publicity stunt.

And that's tame compared to some of the comments at LiveLeak.

Bullying is bad. So is leftist propaganda.

Or this.

Since Merkel let in millions of refugees and Muslims people get killed or beaten down or raped when they try to help the bullied human being!

[EXPLETIVE DELETED] off with your politically correct propaganda and start to ban the extremely violent system that Islam is!

Now there may be times when a corporation DOES choose to make a strong social or political statement. A store that sells guns, for example, has a customer base that is interested in the Second Amendment, and therefore would make statements consistent with their customers' beliefs.

But how does Burger King's anti-bullying statement resonate with its audience?

Will Burger King have a net GAIN of customers as a result of this ad? How many people will say, "I don't eat junk food, but Burger King hates bullies so I'll go there"?

Or will Burger King (or Henry-Alex Rubin) just win some advertising awards and be done with it?

At least the creative Louise Delage campaign was designed to increase "business" for Addict Aide.
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