Reggie Case Study: “Whopper Detour”

Marketer: Burger King

Agency: FCB/RED

Reggie Categories: Digital, Social or Mobile Marketing Campaigns (Gold); Innovative Commerce Marketing Campaigns (Gold)

Millennial and Gen Z diners want experiences and brands they see as real and authentic, and they neither visit Burger King very often nor think of it as especially “cool.” They also don’t watch much live television and are generally cynical about marketing – but they do respond well to gamified experiences, trolling and overall subversiveness.

Armed with research uncovering all of the above, Burger King used geofencing technology to wage what it terms a “guerilla out-of-home” campaign that gave consumers the ability to order 1-cent Whoppers using the new BK App – while on location at main QSR rival McDonald’s.

Burger King knew it was late to the app party and wanted to do something attention-getting to prompt consumers to download the BK App. The QSR chain knew it needed to capitalize on the growth of fast-food apps, whose penetration bloomed from 11% of consumers in 2015 to nearly 40% in 2018, and which will facilitate an estimated $38 billion in sales this year.

McDonald’s restaurant numbers dwarf Burger King’s by about 2 to 1 in the U.S, a competitive advantage that Burger King sought to turn into an advantage for itself. So the chain set up geofencing within 600 feet of 14,000 McDonald’s stores, enabling app users to tap the 1-cent Whopper promotion and then, after placing their orders, receive navigational assistance to the nearest BK.

During this nine-day “Whopper Detour” promotion in December 2018, put together with assistance from FCB/RED, Burger King mostly promoted through social media while also leveraging targeted digital display ad via Foursquare and Waze and seeking regional eyeballs through a full-page print advertisement in the New York Post.

The campaign apparently had special sauce, driving Burger King’s highest foot traffic in more than four years, tripling its mobile sales during the nine-day span, and garnering 1.5 million downloads of the BK App – the most on both iOS and Google Play for several days. The “Whopper Detour” also generated 3.5 billion impressions, an 818% boost in BK Twitter mentions, and $40 million in earned media.

The promotion has continued to pay off, with sales through the app doubling since then and the mobile customer base growing by 33%, which BK says has led to an estimated $15 million increase in annual projected sales – and invaluable new data to tap for further ROI.

Also won Commerce & Shopper Effie Awards in the Omnichannel Shopper Solution and E-Commerce categories.