How Burger King generated a sales record with a "detour" by McDonald's


Why keep it simple, when can it be complicated (and effective)?

In a world saturated with commercial messages, consumers would be less and less receptive to ads devoid of authenticity and whose sole purpose is to satisfy the consumer goddess. An even more pronounced statement among younger generations in search of meaning even in their purchase. So when the "king of the burger" arrives with yet another commercial offer centered on his famous Whopper, we say that the reception will be timid, if not indifferent. It would be bad to know Burger King. The most awarded brand at Cannes Lions this year in front of Nike and IKEA, like nothing so much as being where you do not expect it. By putting a little soul and irreverence into a simple drive-to-store campaign, Burger King has had tremendous success in terms of sales and mobile downloads. Express detour on this record-breaking campaign in this new campaign report.

The context

Burger King and Mc Donald's are the best enemies of the planet food. Not a month, if not a week, without one trolling the other. And in this game, it's often Burger King who shoots his arrows first. Sometimes to divert the McDonald's Happy Meal into "Real Meal", boost the sales of its Whopper by "grilling" the competition (" Burn that Ad Has also distinguished itself in Cannes this year with a Live Gold) or mock the famous anniversaries of Ronald to forget that the channel does not offer this type of service. Competing with home delivery services like Uber Eats and McDonald's, which has been offering online ordering and payment via mobile for the past two years, Burger King wanted to highlight the pre-order functionality of its new mobile application this time. as well as geolocation.


The campaign, orchestrated by the agency FCB New York proposed, from December 4 to 12, 2018, the Whopper to 1 cent (or a penny), for any order placed through the mobile app BK … from a McDonald's (or less 200 meters from the restaurant). Burger King was using the geolocation of its new mobile application to unlock this offer. Once the order was placed, the GPS of the app directed the customer to the nearest Burger King to get his famous sandwich. A "Whopper Detour" which is worth … the detour.

FCB New York approached BK with this idea a year before the operation. " We adore the ideas that, when presented to us, make us say, How on earth are we going to do that? ", Explain Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King's Global Head of Brand Marketing. The order and mobile payment were available since August 2018 on the mobile app, and Burger King wanted to promote these new features "in a way that seems to be the very epitome of Burger King ", remember Fernando Machado, global CMO from Burger King.

Burger King has obviously communicated on his campaign via social networks with several tweets BK sauce.

14,000 McDonald's have been "hijacked" by Burger King on American soil (and only in the United States). The "king of the burger" has "only" 7,200 in North America. Beyond the simple "trolling", the official goal was to encourage the maximum number of people to download the newly redesigned Burger King mobile app.

" We like to get around the rules, we like to be bold, we like to be a challenger brand. But Burger King will never be a mean brand », has explained pascoa ensuring that they do not seek to insult McDonald's and its employees.

The results

– From 686th place on the App Store to 1st place in 48 hours (source App Annie)
– App number 1 on iOS and Android (App Annie)
– 1.5 million app downloads in 9 days (source: BK Internal Data)
– 3.3 billion impressions (source: Cision & ABMC)
– 50,000 mentions on Twitter
– Mobile sales tripled during the offer period: December 4 to 12, 2018, ie 8 days (source: BK Internal Data)
– Mobile sales doubled even after the end of the offer (source: BK Internal Data)
– Record store traffic for 4 years (source: BK Internal Data)
– The "Whopper Detour" offer is 40 times larger than the last record for a digital promotion of Burger King
– Grand Prix Titanium + Grand Prix Mobile + Grand Prix Direct for Burger King's Whopper Detour by FCB New York.

The case study

The three keys to success

– Complicating things can pay off
The "Whopper Detour" user journey is not easy, yet it has proven to be extremely effective. The prospect of going to McDonald's to order a Whopper must have amused many. A game that finds its ultimate reward at the end of the chain with the tasting of a Whopper for a dime.

At the same time, it is a great risk to encourage potential customers to go to the competition. Once there, a fan of BK could have been tempted by a sweetness at McDonald's …

For Fernando Machado, CEO of Burger King, the "Whopper Detour" proves that the most obvious and practical idea is not always the most effective. " So, here is the deal. I give you two options: Option A, you download the app and you get a free Whopper. Option B, download the app, enter your bank details, drive to a McDonalds, order from this competing restaurant, pay a dime, and return to Burger King to pick up your sandwichsays Machado. What do you think will work best? Well, we thought option A, and our competitors too. It did not work. Everyone did not care. But when we launched the Whopper Detour, which is more or less option B, we won the jackpot. It's the power of an idea. The power to twist logic."

However, "the Whopper Detour is the most indirect idea to win the Grand Prix Direct in Cannes "thought Machado then.

– A nice shot RP for a pure promotional campaign
With its "The Whopper Detour" campaign, Burger King has been able to engage media from all walks of life in a drive to store campaign.

Burger King also brilliantly played the viral rankings of mobile blinds to highlight its application and increase downloads.

"This is a surprising technology use allowing consumers to get out of a competing store and enter their own storesays David Lubars, President of the Titanium Lions Jury and Creative Director of BBDO Worldwide. It is a technological hack turned towards the future, with excellent sales results and that we have never seen before (…) It's incredibly difficult to do, but it seems to be effortless . It's fun, human and delicious. "

– A campaign that does not forget its commercial objectives
What are Whopper "offered" at 1 cent when the downloads of its application explode, as well as the sales in store? Calculations were quickly made of Burger King.

Countryside " check all the boxes«, For David Lubars, president of the Titanium Lions jury: the Whopper Detour is"perfectly executed","totally in the spirit of the brand and fun"He said. Robin Fitzgerald, CCO at BBDO Atlanta and jury of the Direct in Cannes, considers that the campaign is a "clear example of true direct marketing", Made to immediately generate new sales.

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