Burger King launched a bold new campaign to promote its app by taking an unprovoked shot at one of their chief competitors. In the bewildering campaign, they offered the public a coupon for their signature sandwich, the Whopper, for just one penny. The catch? You have to go to McDonald’s to get it.

Customers looking to take advantage of the deal would have to first download the Burger King app, then travel to the nearest McDonald’s to unlock a special coupon for their one cent Whopper.

Sound bizarre? Well, it is. Was it smart? Probably. Before we get into why, here’s what the process looks like: You download the app which loads the specially advertised deal, along with a long list of other date-specific deals. Once you are within about 600 feet of McDonald’s (accurate by all accounts we’ve seen), the coupon is unlocked, and you land on their online menu where you can add sides to your order before checking out. You are then directed to the nearest Burger King location.

Of course, there is a catch.

Then come the hurdles. To check out and get your order, you must first create an account, complete with email address and credit card info for payment processing. Which is common for online food ordering apps, but was interesting to see that’s what this mission was all about.

As I took the steps toward taking part, all signs pointed toward at least a marginal marketing success. “Burger King” was at the top of the list of trending apps in the Apple App Store. The parking lot I visited on my mission to a semi-busy McDonald’s location had at least three other obvious participants judging from the awkward parking angles and otherwise empty-handed phone fiddlers.

Was it actually a good idea?

But was it really a good idea to send people to the competition? Depends on who you ask. While it seems to have gotten many people to download the app and circle McDonald’s like burger hungry sharks, the original post on Burger King’s Facebook page told a different story.

One commenter wrote:

“The promo worked for me however, TERRIBLE marketing strategy. You are forcing people to go to McDonalds. Ummm everyone knows McDonald’s fries are better and they have dollar any size drinks…soooo paid two bucks at McDonald’s and .01 at Burger King… thanks”

Another chimed in with different results:

“Yep. What a failure. Three burger Kings in my tiny Town and none are accepting mobile orders…. Useless. Good thing I was at McDonald’s!”

poll results

Was it a success? Well, it depends on their goal.

Judging from Facebook comments alone, McDonald’s got a lot of business this week once deal-seekers realized the online ordering option wasn’t available at every location. Locally, it seems the app worked without issue. We talked to two participants and asked how that experience played out, and it sounded like it worked without a hitch.

Presuming there will be collateral damage for any risky venture, it seems like if the goal of the campaign was app downloads, email capture, brand awareness and starting a conversation, then Burger King created a successful viral marketing campaign.

Did it work on me? No. I don’t go to Burger King enough to want to give up my data for a one time deal.

Did it work on others? Heck yeah it did. 

Will it top the success of the pig-tailed queen of social snark for fast food social media accounts? Not a chance. After all, it was their idea.

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Article Written By:

Blake Johnson

Content Strategist/Probably Shopping for Vinyl