Burger King kills the Whopper to feed its viral video stunt

Whopper Freakout

Burger King has hit viral video payday with their new Whopper Freakout viral video. In the video, customers at Burger King in Las Vegas are told that the Whopper has been discontinued. They are shocked and even outraged, or as the website puts it – they “freaked out.”Viral video success is basically about getting lots of people to talk about your thing, whatever it is. In this case, Burger King has succeeded since their videos on YouTube have been viewed thousands of times, and many people, myself now included, have written about their stunt.However, it’s one thing to get people to talk about your viral thing; it’s another to leave them with a good taste in their mouth (no pun intended!). I personally found this video hard to watch and offensive, but I’ve never been a fan of blooper-type videos where we all get to laugh at the expense of someone else. I personally think this video’s success is precisely because it allows the viewer to feel so smart that he or she knows the truth, while the person in the video is the butt of a good joke, and I’m not sure that this is the most effective way to achieve viral fame.But maybe it is. And anyways, there is one really good marketing lesson here that was pointed out by Easy Street Marketing: If you want to create buzz for your product, don’t let anyone have it.Robert Gorell at Future Now says that the Whopper Freakout was one the best TV + Web viral campaigns for the following reasons:

  • The reactions.
  • It’s “flame broiled,” not fried.
  • The Whopper isn’t a new product or promotion.
  • The King is a man of few words; he’s a prankster, but ultimately, he saves the day.
  • A short TV commercial serves as a teaser, while the real payoff happens online.
  • Their custom video player is grainy, making it feel voyeuristic and, somehow, more trustworthy.
  • Even though they built their own site, they still put it on YouTube.
  • It’s brilliantly filmed and choreographed.
  • You can share it (email it, embed it).
  • They didn’t have to do it.
  • They did it.
  • Unless you’re vegan, it kinda makes you crave a Whopper.
  • “From what I understand, they were too popular.”
  • It’s actually not a ridiculous stunt, unlike this.

In any case, it’s an interesting study in viral marketing, and the efforts by big corporations to spread the word via the web and with social media.

Read an interview with the video’s director Henry-Alex Rubin to get a look at the inside story, and how they set the whole thing up.

And of course, in the tradition of all things viral, here is yet another embedded instance of the video: