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Online Trends

Published February 26th 2020

People Are Disgusted With This Brand… But Not In A Bad Way

This fast food chain repulsed audiences with it's signature menu item rotting on camera for a viral marketing campaign. How did it go down with consumers?

Behold the Moldy Whopper.

Yep, Moldy!

Burger King turned heads last week with their marketing stunt which showed their signature burger rot in real time. From billboards and bus stops to online ads, nobody was safe from the toxic mess you couldn’t help but stare at.

We wanted to know if the gross stunt had actually worked for Burger King, so we used Brandwatch Consumer Research to look over two weeks of Burger King mentions.

Hot topic

In the last two weeks, Burger King was mentioned more than 174,000 times online. Mention volume peaked at 40.7k in a single day because of the “Moldy Whopper” campaign.

If you’ve not seen it, brace yourself:

Looking at the emotions driving those mentions, one stood out in particular:

Emotions over time

Source: Brandwatch Consumer Research, 25 February 2020.

Over the past two weeks, “disgust” was the strongest emotion detected within the conversations surrounding Burger King, the Whopper and the moldy Whopper.

There were over 49K mentions containing language that indicated disgust overall.

The grim depiction of a Whopper ageing clearly didn’t spark much hunger.

Negative, but not negative…

Of all sentiment-categorized mentions from the last two weeks focused on Burger King, 59.2% were negative. But it wasn’t that people were angry with BK directly.

Our sentiment-categorization and emotion-categorization was right to recognize that food ‘getting ugly’ was negative and driven by disgust. But that was the intended response, so for Burger King, this isn’t a cause for concern.

What is a cause for concern is whether this stunt worked.

Did it work?

In the last two weeks, the #MoldyWhopper has had over 21.4M impressions. This just goes to show how far the campaign went on social.

And it’s clear that the stunt won favor with industry professionals – #Advertising and #Marketing were among the most-used hashtags within these conversations.

Burger King has achieved something very rare – a campaign that:

  • Elicits a strong audience reaction, making the content incredibly shareable
  • Achieves a reaction that was intended (disgust was definitely what the brand was going for!)
  • Pushes a clear marketing message (in this case, the lack of artificial preservatives in the much-loved Whopper burger)

From our point of view, this is a big win. But let us know what you thought of the moldy Whopper @BW_React.

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