Burger Battle Royal

Burger King spread out its last provocation (another one you may say), obviously directed to its biggest and most renown competitor, McDonald’s. Just a reminder of what happened.

Burger King has taken out full-page ads in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune featuring an open letter to McDonald’s, calling for the companies to “end the beef.” They wanted to create and use the awareness of McDonald’s but also honor The International Day of Peace on September 21. This year’s theme is “Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All,” and so came up the idea to propose something unique to the golden arches brand.

Burger King Letter


Burger King suggests creating the McWhopper — just a hybrid Whopper-Big Mac hybrid burger. But will the McWhopper really hit the menu of a burger joint near you? Actually, in the process of this peace attempt, the unfortunate royal brand forgot to put Ronald in the loop and we might say that Steve Easterbrook (CEO of McDonald’s) had the perfect reaction to twist the plot completely. Steve Easterbrook responded to Burger King’s idea on Facebook Wednesday morning. And that was the best move of the day.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 23.18.17

I don’t want to say here if one of the brands was the winner of this campaign or not. To be honest, we might say that there is no winner but, for sure, there is lesson of marketing to take here. And you can always have a look to my previous article on challenger attitude https://nonobviousmarketingobservations.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/challenger-mission/. You have to truly think twice before playing the troublemaker. By this simple but sharp answer, McDonald’s CEO made it clear that they were totally leader of the market, that they don’t even consider there is a war in the burger business and that they’re open for any discussion to make the world a better place – and they don’t to make a fuss out of it. They won the emotional battle by far. The Whopper was clearly the hero of Burger King communication; McDonald’s underlines the attitude, the morals and the values of a their brand. They nailed it down. And fast. And simple.

That might be the same lesson that Pepsi remembers also. Provoke with moderation, folks but continue to do it. That makes communication so exciting and unexpected.

Pepsi Hal


4 thoughts on “Burger Battle Royal

  1. Well, although I’ve just started following your blog and I enjoy reading it, I have to disagree here. With this reply, McDonald’s sounds exactly like that guy who thinks he’s overly cool (of course he is, but not that much) and who can’t accept that others can look cooler than him sometime. Moreover, the empathy value in BK’s idea will go a long, long, long way among masses. I’m not saying they’ll affect peace building tomorrow morning in Kabul, but in terms of mere brand KPIs, BK is winning this one.

    And I’m sorry but you don’t twist the plot and win an emotional battle with a single Facebook post. As the world’s biggest fast-food brand, you must work harder than that to defend your point of view. At least a video response featuring the CEO would have been more powerful.

    To me, this is a plain and simple #McFail loaded with arrogance.


  2. Hi Hugo, thank you for your comment. I don’t try to define who won the battle but I just observe couple of things here. I really appreciate the bold attitude from Burger King and the intention seems to be genuine but I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth
    They use the Peace Day to make a PR stunt to obviously touch a maximum of people. Do they believe in it? I hope so but this is not the first feeling that gets out of it. But the truth is that they instrumentalized it for their own battle against the leader of the market. Then, they really made it creative and interesting but perhaps they pushed the enveloppe too far. I believe the letter would have been enough with the video, the outfit and the packaging. I think the sober (not arrogant) answer of McDonald’s was interesting because it was saying ‘We can make something big for sure, why not to think about it together’ – it’s more inclusive than exclusive or provocative. The attitude is more mature considering the context of this special day. Another point is that this campaign gave the same visibility to both brands while BK spent a lof of money and McDonad’s did not pay a dime – in marketing that counts, as you know.
    But the way, I prefer the Whopper than the Big Mac…so it was hurting me to make those conclusions 😉


  3. haha last time I had a Whopper was in 1995 I think so I’m the opposite, I couldn’t care less about BK.

    More seriously, I appreciate your argument regarding the scale of the investment. Perhaps too big and too much money. However, I still hold my point regarding the delivery of McDo’s response. Not the right tone of voice.


  4. OK, I surrender. The answer may seem slightly arrogant (a bit like an adult saying to a child to calm down). But you know, tone of voice through a FB post is always a challenge. We can imagine he had a mild and gentle smile on his face when he wrote it – sorry, when the intern wrote it 😉


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