Thursday, December 11, 2008
We're no Whopper Virgins
I remember when senior management at Fallon did their requisite sensitivity training. In amongst the ever-changing boundaries of what was and was not offensive was the supposedly golden rule: if it offends someone, it's offensive.
This assumes that you're dealing with a relative base level of common understanding. If you're not - oh, and just to be clear, we're not - then you can always find someone who will be offended. (Yes, even that statement will offend some.)
So to the noise surrounding the Whopper Virgins campaign.
Gee, looks like another decent vox pop demonstration to me. Finding people who'd never tried a hamburger, let alone known what McDonalds or Burger King are about. Inviting them to taste the food. Recording their responses. Seems fair.
Food imperialism? A camera crew can't change a village's diet. A new BK franchise, maybe. But that's not what's happening here.
How about promoting unhealthy diet, or ecologically unsound food sources? Well, no more than any other piece of persuasive communications. Which of course doesn't make it right, it's just not more wrong.
On a different note, let's also look at the actual strategy. When we helped McCann pitch and win Burger King (several tumultuous BK-Agency relationships ago), this is the exact angle we took. Despite all the things that people believed McDonalds did better, the one bright spot for Burger King was the Whopper. QSR fans hands-down called it their favorite mass-brand burger. Our campaign created a 'vocal point' for the brand, namely The Whopper, who would share Whopperisms about food and life in general. The line for the effort was "In the land of burgers, Whopper is king" and for good measure, we signed everything off with a flaming Burger King crown.
Unfortunately, McCann held the business for less than six months before yet another client side management change prompted a fresh strategy and agency search. Restlessness is a bad friend.
I like this new Whopper Virgins work. It's on a strategy that had every chance of working last time, before the plug was prematurely pulled. And it's way more direct than the executions we were able to roll out. Teamed with all the other efforts, some excellent, some just noisy, who could argue that BK has improved its brand relevance out of all recognition.
Now, if they could just stop offending people.