Posts Tagged ‘burger king’

Free Chapter Download from ‘The Next Evolution of Marketing’

Friday, September 4th, 2009

chapter 2 image

It’s just a little less than one month to go before the official release of my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning. You might have noticed the new website, here, which matches the design of the book and brings in a lot of new content and tools that I’ll be introducing in future posts. Today I want to share the release of a free chapter of the book, in hopes that you will enjoy the sample, place a pre-order, and share it with friends and colleagues. You can find it on our Media Kit page or simply click here to open a PDF.

It was actually an easy decision to pick this chapter as the free download. Aside from its very compelling first paragraph, above (c’mon, who can resist that!), I selected Chapter 2 because it is where I first fully introduce the concept of Marketing with Meaning. It begins by suggesting we are at the verge of a next evolution of marketing, following in the footsteps of Direct Marketing and Permission Marketing. I then take the reader through four stories of brands that have made a fundamental shift away from interruption and toward meaning, each in a way that fits perfectly with its brand equity and target customers’ needs. Those four brands are Dove, Nike, Burger King, and The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The chapter ends with an introduction of the Hierarchy of Meaningful Marketing, a tool that I further explore in the following three chapters.

Of course, I can’t finish this blog post without calling out the fact that this free chapter is an example of practicing the Marketing with Meaning that I preach. Free samples of any kind give the prospective buyer a chance to check out the product or service with no risk. And I actually spend a couple of pages describing diverse examples and benefits of free samples in my book. My hope is that people come away from this chapter with an overview of the concept and a hunger to see what else I have to say. On the other hand, I also hope that people who read and dislike this chapter are able to save their money (and not spread negative word of mouth!). I would like to thank my team at McGraw-Hill for understanding the importance of a free chapter and for making it happen quickly.

I will be introducing other examples of meaningful marketing around this book as the next few weeks roll by. Thanks so much for your support, feedback, and sharing.

Two Meaningful Campaigns That Fall Short

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

When I first started blogging a few years ago, I read some advice that suggested that you have to be critical every once in a while. You can’t be a cheerleader for your pet cause, and you can’t make friends with everyone. Rather, you must stand for something and produce constructive criticism when it makes sense. I believe this is true, as my favorite bloggers and journalists don’t just spew roses.

I’ve mainly done this through periodic posts under the category “Marketing Without Meaning,” where I blast advertising efforts that completely fail to improve people’s lives. Today I want to do something different. Here I will critique two attempts at meaningful marketing that have missed the mark, in hopes that we all can learn lessons about mistakes to avoid.

Burger King’s Wallet Drop

Burger King is actually one of my favorite meaningful marketers. In my upcoming book I devote several pages to the story of Burger King’s turnaround, which was completely founded on building “connections” with a focused target of young men. An early example, Subservient Chicken, just turned 5 years old.

I learned about this “wallet drop” viral campaign from Burger King last week when I was presenting to a marketing class at Miami University. It seems that in a few cities across the country around November 2008, Burger King purposely dropped hundreds or thousands of wallets in public places for passersby to discover. Upon opening the wallets, people found cash ranging from $1 to $100 and other items such as a map of nearby Burger King restaurants and a fake “The King” driver’s license.

It is a clever idea, but the problem is that it does not seem to have generated the buzz the brand hoped for. I think it’s pretty obvious that the effort and expense of this campaign is a failure if the only outcome is a few thousand people finding wallets and feeling better about BK. Rather, the strategy was most likely set up to have a few finders and journalists spark a blitz of attention to the campaign. Unfortunately for Burger King, the viral fire never seemed to catch. There are only a handful of blog posts about the effort, and almost no traditional media covered the campaign. This is surprising based on the fact that Burger King’s constant supply of edgy advertising naturally attracts extra attention.

I think the biggest problem with the campaign is that it’s just not that interesting or viral. Wallet drop campaigns have been done before, and enclosing a couple of bucks and a coupon is not that clever. I think Burger King could have had more success if it did something to help generate news and make people aware of the chance to find a wallet. For example, create a simple website where people could post where they found the wallets, and where The King could say where he is going next.

KFC’s “Fresh Roads”

I’ll stick with the restaurant business and next review a recent example of cause-related marketing from KFC. The brand recently announced that it would be offering interested cities the chance to have potholes repaired at no cost… well, except for the right to paint a “Re-freshed by KFC” ad over the new pavement. The effort aims to help cities that are struggling to meet budget needs, while drawing attention to the KFC brand’s fresh-chicken campaign.

First, let me say that KFC, like Burger King, gets an “A” for effort. It’s a great first step to move away from another round of annoying ads and actually do something of value to society with the marketing budget itself.

But there are two big problems with the KFC idea. First, it is a really poor link to the brand equity. There’s a touch of cleverness linking KFC and roads (Get it? Chicken crossing the road?), and an attempt to link fresh roads with fresh chicken, but it’s really a bridge too far. A dirty, disgusting street should in no way be linked to a fresh, great-tasting bucket of chicken. I have found clients in the food business to usually be extremely picky about how their product is represented, and I was really surprised to see the brand accept the bad taste that automatically enters people’s minds when you link roads and food.

The second issue really revolves around the placement of advertising in public places in exchange for a donation. Let’s face it: Citizens don’t like advertising shoved in their faces, and they really don’t like government “selling out” public spaces. We don’t look positively on the new trend of selling ad space on school buses or police cars, and McDonald’s was drawn and quartered for a local promotion in Florida where report-card printing costs were covered in return for a Happy Meal ad. These last-resort marketing gimmicks do nothing but remind us of the sad state of government leadership, and suggest that our society is worsening over time. So it’s not appropriate for KFC to remind us of this by splashing a logo across its freshly filled pothole.


I actually find that critiquing other brands’ attempts at meaningful marketing is about the hardest thing I’ve done in this blog. We are at the early days of igniting this revolution, and I hate to pooh-pooh the work of people who are genuinely trying something new. I’m sure that the brand team at KFC had to move mountains internally to try something different, and now they are getting “I told you so’s” across the board.

At the same time, for this next evolution of marketing to take hold, we need to have good, open discussions about what works and what doesn’t. And brands should understand that it takes time and a failure or two to finally figure out what it takes to succeed.

Burger King Strikes Gold Again

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

In our upcoming book version of Marketing with Meaning, one of the companies that I feature early is Burger King. Since its acquisition in 2002, Burger King has reinvented itself as an entertainment brand that appeals deeply to young men, while making many of the rest of us smile as well. From reinventing the King character to producing branded Xbox games and branded boxers (my 8-year-old daughter just looked over my shoulder and added that one) to playing the Whopper Freakout prank, Burger King continues to parade new ways for us to be entertained and to form meaningful connections with the brand.

The latest chapter in its story is the launch of the Whopper Sacrifice Facebook tool, in support of its limited-time Angry Whopper. The premise was pretty simple: “Unfriend” 10 people on your Facebook account, and Burger King promised to send you a coupon for a free Whopper (a $3.99 value). The application and offer launched on January 5, and news stories claimed that more than 200,000 people had been unfriended successfully within a week.

I discovered the application on January 8—and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I successfully did the deeds necessary to receive a free coupon. Little did I know that I would be one of the last to cash in on friendship. Facebook quickly stepped in and claimed that Burger King should disable the feature that showed others which friends had been sacrificed. Burger King decided to pull the plug but not before another big burst of media attention came to the promotion.

Overall, this had to be a huge win for Burger King: two bursts of media coverage, lots of social network activity, and traffic to stores from people eager to cash in their coupons. The cost had to be tiny: Facebook applications are fairly low cost (even for a nice one such as BK’s), and I would estimate about 20,000 coupons were sent, of which maybe 10,000 will be redeemed. That’s probably in the ballpark of $150,000 all-in, a fraction of what a large weekend TV media buy would be.

On a side note, I was extremely impressed that Burger King sent the coupon to my home exactly a week after I finished sacrificing. Most brands promise coupons in six to eight weeks, and don’t get me started on Dr Pepper’s goof-up.

But is it meaningful to consumers? Of course it is! Tens of thousands of people chose to engage in the tool, and they didn’t have to purchase anything to enjoy it. The coupon and opportunity to clean out some Facebook dead weight are extra benefits. There likely is some net negative karma around the friends who are dropped, but that’s life, and we have a handful of Facebook friends who don’t need to see what’s going on in our lives. This even might start a real conversation and some social norms about what kind of Facebook relationships are legitimate. Oh, and Burger King is capitalizing on its bad karma with the opportunity to send an “Angry Gram” to those who de-friended you.

I cannot wait to see what comes next from Burger King. Odds are that it will break the rules, surprise us all, and be worth talking about at the watercooler each day. You can’t say the same thing for McDonald’s.