Whopper Neutrality: Burger King Social Experiment Goes Viral

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Burger King Whopper Neutrality

Burger King’s executives are committed to high-wire marketing—if they’re not out of their comfort zone, it’s not worth doing. After all, you don’t become the Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year by playing it safe.

As Burger King’s global chief marketing officer Fernando Machado told Fast Company in Cannes last year, he’s looking to take the brand to places where the hair stands up on the back of his neck, but always with an inclusive humanity at the core.

“If you’re not afraid, it probably means the work does not have enough voltage,” Machado commented. “We’re always afraid. As a client, if you’re interested in doing good work, the important thing is not to be fearless, the important thing is to be brave—to do it even though you are afraid.”

That risk-embracing ethos has taken Burger King into unexpected places: The McWhopper. The Proud Whopper. The Angriest Whopper. Its next high-flying act: Whopper Neutrality, which uses the Whopper to illustrate—and frustrate customers—around the hot-potato political issue of Net Neutrality.

Using real customers and a fake menu board, Burger King filmed customers waiting for their Whopper orders at a restaurant, informing them of a new tiered pricing model that boils down to the more you pay ($25.99), the faster you’ll get your order. Don’t pay a premium and suffer in the slow lane as your Whopper gets cold. Outrage, eye-rolling, veiled threats to staffers ensued.

Burger King Whopper Neutrality

The order-fulfillment slowdown served as a stand-in for what could happen to data on the internet in the wake of the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality. Net neutrality is an issue that most Americans don’t really understand, so what better way to illustrate data transfer issues than with tasty burgers?

Burger King Whopper Neutrality

The social messaging:
The repeal of Net Neutrality is a hot topic in America, but it can be very difficult to understand. That’s why the BURGER KING® brand created WHOPPER® Neutrality, a social experiment that explains the effects of the repeal of Net Neutrality by putting it in terms anyone can understand: A WHOPPER® sandwich. This effort aims to help people understand how the repeal of Net Neutrality will impact their lives. The BURGER KING® brand believes the Internet should be like the WHOPPER® sandwich: the same for everyone. Help keep Net Neutrality safe by signing the petition at Change.org/SavetheNet

The footnote: “Actual Guests. Fake pricing for illustration purposes only.”

In the first 48 hours since the campaign broke on Jan. 24th, the YouTube video chalked up more than 3 million views, the Twitter video was viewed 1.19 million times and the Facebook video has over 8.5 million views.

“We believe the internet should be like Burger King restaurants—a place that doesn’t prioritize and welcomes everyone,” Machado stated in a press release about the social experiment. “That is why we created this experiment, to call attention to the potential effects of net neutrality.”

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