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Who Says You Can Only Promote Sales and Not Your Brand, This is How Burger King Does It

Burger King trolls McDonald’s yet again. This time it’s all about Big Macs! That’s right. All the names of Burger King combo meals have been changed to McDonald’s Big Mac. For instance:

  • Like a Big Mac, but Actually Big” Combo Meal
  • Kind of Like a Big Mac, but Juicier and Tastier” Combo Meal
  • Burger Big Mac Wished It Was” Combo Meal
  • Anything but a Big Mac” Combo Meal
  • Big Mac-ish But Flame-Grilled of Course” Combo Meal


Isn’t Burger King afraid of being sued for blatantly using its competitor McDonald’s product name in its stores?

This is what happened. The fast food chain Supermac’s in Ireland filed a complaint with the European Union and requested the EU to revoke of McDonald’s Big Mac trademark rights in specific areas. Supermac’s recently won the legal battle, which means that McDonald’s no longer solely owns the rights to the Big Mac trademark. Burger King cleverly seized this opportunity and changed all the items on the menu of one of its stores in Stockholm, Sweden to Big Mac. It also promoted the features of Burger King’s products – “Big, Grilled, and Juicy.” Now that’s what I call real-time marketing, folks!  

This is not the first time Burger King has trolled McDonald’s. Last year (2018), Burger King released an ad campaign for its App that is beyond your wildest dreams! The ad said “Order a Whopper Sandwich for NT $0.3 (USD $1), only ‘at’ McDonald’s.” It goes completely against all logic, yet Burger King shot the promotional film very seriously. Isn’t it wild?

▲Burger King continues to troll McDonald’s by asking you to buy a Whopper Sandwich by making a detour to McDonald’s.

In the video, Burger King asked its customers to buy a cheap Whopper Sandwich at McDonald’s. Of course McDonald’s doesn’t sell Whoppers, so “[i]f you work at McDonald’s, what would your reaction be if someone orders a Whopper that your store doesn’t have?” All those reactions of McDonald’s staff like “Huh? We don’t have Whoppers! This isn’t Burger King…” are exactly what Burger King wants to show. Everything was filmed and integrated into the hilarious promotional video “Whopper Detour.”

Certainly, a person would not “drive up to McDonald’s drive-thru window and order a Whopper Sandwich” like portrayed in the film if he/she wanted a coupon for a Whopper Sandwich for USD $0.01. Nobody would take that person seriously. This is how it actually works:

From December 4 to 12, 2018, open the Burger King App. If you deliberately make a detour passing by within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location, you will receive a promotional push message “Order A Whopper Sandwich for 1 cent”. After you unlock this message, there’s no need to worry about where to buy a Whopper Sandwich, because the App will thoughtfully direct you to the nearest Burger King, where you can use this coupon to buy it at a super low price.

▲The four steps that allow you to “redeem” a Whopper Sandwich.

In these two examples, Burger King doesn’t just idly explain the rules of the game, but rather entertain you first and say what the consumers care about. Furthermore, most importantly, when you receive the message, you will be willing to give a “like” and share the message.

A sales promotion with brand awareness builds Burger King’s brand image (humor and product features such as grilled and juicy), and creates buzz; if you search “Burger King Detour” online, you will find several Internet celebrities and youtubers that filmed themselves following the instructions. On the other hand, a single message that says “Download the App now for a free Whopper Sandwich” will only attract a group of penny-wise customers, and not those who “just love the Burger King style”!

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