Friday, February 13, 2009

All hail the king of viral marketing: Burger King

Burger King is a master of generating press from its viral marketing campaigns.
When the company said in December it was getting into the fragrance business with a scent called Flame, bloggers and the mainstream media treated it like the real deal.
It was as if Burger King wanted to give Axe body spray a run for its money. Burger King described Flame as the “scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat.”
Bloggers and wire services wrote about how outrageous it was for Burger King to come out with a burger-themed scent. Some bought it to smell for themselves.
When the product sold out before Christmas, they covered it again. (It was only sold online and through a novelty gift shop chain in New York City.)
Comedians and late-night talk show hosts had a field day with the Burger King fragrance.
But it was all a viral marketing stunt, designed to get people talking about Burger King.
Burger King has had similar success with its Whopper Sacrifice application on Facebook, its Whopper Virgins videos, Burger King video games on Xbox 360, Simpsonize Me and Subservient Chicken web sites.
For more on Burger King’s viral marketing strategy, check out my story in Investor’s Business Daily.
I spoke with Russ Klein, president of global marketing strategy and innovation for Burger King Holdings Inc. for the article.
I wasn’t able to get much detail about the Flame scent promotion in my IBD article, so I’ll provide that here on Tech-media-tainment.
This past December was the one-year anniversary of Burger King’s successful Whopper Freakout campaign. For that advertising campaign, Burger King set up hidden cameras in one of its restaurants and had workers tell customers that the Whopper had been discontinued. Needless to say, some customers freaked out. They demanded to speak to the manager and get a full explanation. The gag was revealed when the King mascot emerged to hand deliver a Whopper to each of the wigged-out customers.
Burger King considered that campaign a high water mark and wanted to top it, Klein says.
The result of the company’s creative brainstorming was the Whopper Virgins campaign – videos showing the “world’s purest taste test” – and the Flame cologne promotion, Klein says.
“We’re obviously not really in the perfume or cologne business, but we thought that it would add additional messaging around the core idea that people who love the Whopper really love the Whopper,” Klein said.
Burger King worked with a contract fragrance house to put together its own recipe for Flame. Klein describes the cologne as having a “woody, mesquite smell.”
Burger King produced over 10,000 units of the Flame cologne and sold out in three days. The product retailed for $3.99.
Flame is now back for an encore release for Valentine’s Day, he said.

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