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Burger King too weird, McDonalds not honest, both could learn a thing or two from White Castle.

April 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Burger King too weird, McDonalds not honest, both could learn a thing or two from White Castle.

On Wednesday Night I drove by Burger King Headquarters. They’re located down here in Miami.


Then Thursday I spoke about Marketing to Gen Y (Millennials or whichever name is your current favorite) at AdFed Miami. Strangely I didn’t meet anyone from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the large Ad Agency down here that I understand handles the Burger King account. I wanted to ask them some questions about the King-Clown advertising.

It seems there’s been a lot of press about the success about that campaign in advertising trade media. The problem is, ads should be created to sell the products, not to win awards because other “Creatives” think they’re cool. The question is what impact does it have on the target demographic?

Anderson Analytics GenX2Z has been tracking unaided top of mind brands and advertising among this demographic since 2005. While in 2005 I think the ads featuring the King Clown running a touchdown was received well among males in this demographic (see chart below n=1000/semester), females did not respond well, and in subsequent years this advertising campaign got even weirder alienating even the males. Burger King is doing what Geico has been doing recently with their cavemen. Trying to be too cool, and confusing the message.

Burger King, Weird/Confusing:


Geico Caveman, Weird/Confusing & Overused:


Are they selling more burgers with the clown? Or is the campaign doing more harm than good? Polling 100 18-24 year olds on Facebook makes it seem that preference for Burger King and McDonalds is fairly neck in Neck.

Chain Prefference:


By Gender:


On the other hand, asking the 100 who has better advertising, McDonalds or Burger King and McDonalds wins. The difference is even larger when you break out by gender.

Better Advertising:


By Gender:


Not that McDonalds advertising to this demographic should receive any awards either. Looking at how their advertising has been received over the past 3 years (green are good comments, red are negative comments), McDonalds also makes a critical mistake. They are trying to tell people their food is healthy “come on” say Gen Y, “who would go to McDonalds for healthy food, who do they think they’re fooling”. McDonalds isn’t selling health food, and telling this demographic that they have healthy food is seen as untruthful and harms trust. McDonalds should learn to be more honest, “who do you think your’re fooling”.


As far as burger advertising is concerned, both Burker King and Mc Donalds could learn from White Castle when advertising to this demographic. Using humor, even shock-humor (think reaper commercials; the opposite of healthy) elevating your brand to cult status seems like a more effective approach. And if Facebook Fan pages are telling, which I believe they are, then White Castle is certainly doing well associating themselves with Harold and Kumar.


Still in Miami today, blog entry from the pool, could get used to it down here.


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Tags: Advertising · Anderson Analytics · Branding · GenX2Z · Marketing · Tom H. C. Anderson · Uncategorized

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