When someone says the name Burger King what do you think of?
Fast food, unhealthy food, convenience? But what about anti bullying?
It is not a connection that I would have originally made myself however, as part of anti-bullying month Burger King did a PR stunt in an undisclosed restaurant in LA where hidden cameras where used and Burger King employees served beaten up Whopper Jr. hamburgers whilst at the same time paid teenage actors are physically bulling another teenage boy.
What is the spot about?
The spot is called “Bullying Jr.,” and was created in honour of National Bullying Prevention Month which took place during the month of October in the US to raise awareness that 30 % of students are bullied each year.
The stunt was to highlight the sad truth of bullying that in many cases bystanders will not get involved and in this instance it turned out to be true, with only 12% of customers reporting the bullying of the child whilst a staggering 95% of customers reported the ‘bullied’ Whopper Jr. Burger.
The campaign has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube and been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.
Burger King partnered with US anti-bullying organisation No Bully and the CEO and Founder Nicolas Carlisle had this to say about the ad: “We know that bullying takes on many forms, physical, verbal, relational and online. But the first step to putting an end to bullying is to take a stand against it…our partnership with the Burger King brand is an example of how brands can bring positive awareness to important issues. You have to start somewhere and they chose to start within.”
Link to the video on YouTube:
Why I think it worked:
Although the ad received some criticism due the obvious product placement and the fact it only confronts one element of bullying, physical bullying, I think that the ad worked very well for a number of reasons:
- Real Life Situation
It was a real life situation that any of us could find ourselves or have found ourselves in so the relatability factor had you questioning what you would do in that situation and by the end of the ad it may have you questioning what you might do in the future if you are ever in a similar situation. The fact the situation is real life reactions emphasises the figures presented at the end of the experiment.
- Support Of A Recognised Charity
As the campaign is supported by an anti-bullying organisation, No Bully, this helps ensure that the message gets across without it seeming like another ploy to promote a fast food chain. It further adds authenticity to the facts and figures provided during the ad increasing the strength of the message. By partnering with an anti-bullying organisation this highlights the good that globally recognised brands can do to shine a light on important issues.
The ad is very emotive as it shows a child getting bullied in the video and that can be hard to watch. Combined by the fact very little people stand in to helps further heights how distressing bullying can be if you are in need of help but people chose to ignore your plea.
The comparison of people’s reactions to the bullying and their ‘bullied’ burger increases the emotion as it is hard to comprehend that people would be more concerned with food being bullied than a child.
The ability to involve people’s emotions and possibly draw on their own experiences is very powerful as it adds an extra dimension to the ad and helps ensure that it is memorable, thought provoking and engaging.
Burger King says it wants its position to be clear.
“The Burger King brand is known for putting the crown on everyone’s head and allowing people to have it their way. Bullying is the exact opposite of that,” the company said.
At the end of the ad when they speak to the people who intervened when the child was being bullied it was interesting to see their reasoning behind helping – many of them had been bullied as children and wished that someone would have stepped in to help them. Does this then raise the concern that ignorance is bliss? Are we living in a society that if you have not been directly affected by bullying that it is easier for you to choose to ignore it even if it is happening right in front of you? In my opinion the ad does make you consider your own actions and how you might act in the future.
In order for any campaign to be successful the message needs to be clear, memorable and with a call to action and I think that Burger King managed to do all three within this ad.
Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/