In February, Burger King launched a new marketing campaign that caught the eye of the audience and other companies. The marketing campaign featured Burger King’s Whopper and showed the Whopper progressively rotting for about 43 days in front of the camera. At the end of the video, Burger King displayed a tagline that stated, The Beauty of No Artificial Preservatives (Cavill, 2020).
Although the Whopper rotting may be unappetizing for the audience, the purpose behind the Moldy Burger campaign was for Burger King to remind customers about the company’s preparation, that they do use fresh ingredients in their meal. The Whopper Burger contained no preservatives in the burger hence the rotting. The marketing campaign indicated a change in the company, which aimed to reduce preservatives from their food as told by Fernando Machado, International Global Chief Marketing Officer of Restaurant Brands, owns Burger King (Cavill, 2020). They are focusing on their ingredient quality, which can be a relief for customers because fast food can be known to have ingredients that contain preservatives.
Burger King did have a creative marketing campaign that can be out of the box because it is challenging for fast-food chains to come up with ideas to stand out since there is so much competition in the industry. Burger King took a different approach to market campaigns that are different from their previous campaigns or even to their fellow competitors. They astray from the traditional fast food advertising customers are used to viewing since the food is supposed to appear attractive and irresistible to the audience. The products are supposed to be bright and full of color for the audience to say, “I am carving this and want it now” when viewing the majority of fast food commercials.
Although the purpose behind the marketing campaign was innovative, an average viewer may not want to see a burger disintegrate and rot in front of their eyes. When people view printed advertising, it's all about what's in front of them. The pictures on the advertising tend to give a viewer's first impression of the company. Customers expect to see a perfectly beautiful product and are too irresistible. However, after viewing this commercial, customers would possibly never eat another Whopper again. The problem is customers may not understand Burger King’s true purpose for this campaign and can interpret the campaign differently.
The main target Burger King marketed to was the health-conscious people rather than everyday consumers because they wanted to fulfill their need to know that they are always serving fresh food with these ingredients (Cavill, 2020). They tried to target a specific and limited customer base, which posed a risk because the health-conscious consumer market may not even understand the commercial’s message either. Their reaction can be the same as the other customers.
Burger King hoped that customers would look beyond the mold, that did not happen.
According to the Ace Metrix, over one-fourth of views turned away from purchasing from Burger King because of the commercial (Adams, 2020). The problem is Burger King only targeted a small audience that may not understand why Whopper is rotting because there are no preservatives in the burger. Burger King's commercial will not only affect the health-conscious market but the new customer market as well. The commercial will scare any new customers from dining at Burger King for a while.
Overall, Burger King did take a creative approach to this marketing campaign going out of the box. However, the whole idea is unsuccessful for this company in the industry. Burger King's message can be too complicated for the views to understand at first because they cannot look beyond the mold. The Moldy Burger commercial does hurt them because moldy burgers do not hold a positive connotation to viewers when they think of fast food. Especially for people who are introduced by Burger King for the first time.
- What do you think of this commercial overall?
- Do you think this commercial can attract more customers if so how?
About the author
Michelle Shintaku is a second-year student at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. She currently majors in hospitality management with an emphasis on food and beverage at The Collins College of Hospitality Management. With a passion for hospitality, she has over one year of experience in the industry. Michelle was a teaching assistant in the Healthy American Cuisine at the Collins College for a year. She later worked at quick-service food places like Marugame Udon in both the front and back of the house. She wants to pursue a career in the field of food and beverage.
Adams, P. (2020, February 24). Burger King’s moldy Whopper ad sparks a visceral reaction, but scores on subversion. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from
Cavill, S. (2020, February 24). Fast Food Marketing: 4 Bold New Campaigns. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from https://insights.digitalmediasolutions.com/articles/fast-food-campaigns