Burger King gives McDonalds a digital whoppin’

For several years now Burger King, once one of the worst accounts in advertising, has been exemplary in its use and exploitation of new media. Or as we call it: media.

In partnership with agency Crispin Porter Bogusky, Burger King has dived deep, doing everything from branded content to (truly) viral efforts as well as some brilliant advertising for the Whopper. If you’ve eaten their fries lately you’ll have noticed that they, quite rightly, even treat the fry box as a medium. Giving the diner information and matey chat. Everyone could learn a lot from what these guys have done.

We were talking about this recently with someone whose opinion we value highly who happens to work at Google. And he made the point that BK’s experience in the digital area qualifies as a legitimate asset at this point. It’s worth money and is a competitive edge. And conversely McDonalds’ much more tentative steps in the digital arena will someday bite it on the rear end.

Similarly, agencies that have been hesitant about embracing the possibilities of digital/online will, and are, having a rude awakening. Because actual experience is golden here. You can read all the blogs and Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin books in the world and go to all the conferences but nothing subsitutes for doing something. And the great thing is that, unlike traditional advertising, it doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune to try something in digital land.

If you look at the BK work, a traditional TV mass marketer might criticize it as being “all over the place”. And it is. CPB is constantly launching new initiatives and ideas whose commonality is often merely tone. They are having fun. And they know from experience that the best way to approach the online world is to try a lot of things and see what sticks. Because nobody, not even CPB, can be sure of that. It’s a bit like the record industry model. Throw out a bunch of stuff and something will hit.

It’s a much more free-form approach. And one that understandably would make some marketers nervous. Not BK. What’s the biblical quotation? As ye sow so shall ye reap. Yup.

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