McDonald’s and Burger King have been legendary competitors. They have always been seen as counterparts to each other, as two sides of the same coin. Like yin and yang, it is simply inconceivable to imagine a world in which they are not rivals and as good rivals, both companies have participated in a dirty war through their Marketing teams. A war that has moved to the digital battlefield through social networks.
Since I have memory McDonald’s and Burger King have been struggling with each other to increase their clientele through marketing, sometimes Marketing has focused on themselves and demonstrate that their products are superior to their competition, but from time to time things have taken a different turn. The marketing that both companies have taken is rather aggressive by attacking each other through social networks. These attacks have a double function: to humiliate the competition to exalt the characteristics of their own products and at the same time to make the customer laugh.
Boo! -rger king
One of the first campaigns in this dirty war was Halloween’s campaign on October 31, 2016, when a Burger King restaurant in a New York neighborhood disguised itself as McDonalds. Yeah, you read that right. The restaurant was covered with white blankets on which the name of its competitor was sprayed. Throughout the restaurant were a series of small signs that read, “Don’t worry, we still make our hamburgers on the grill. Have a happy Halloween.” The photos of the restaurant were shared on social networks such as Twitter accompanied by Hashtag “Halloween” achieving more than 2K retweets in a framework of 3 hours.
The following year the offensive came from Burger King Spain which made a viral video in which a young man was being chased by an army of furious Clowns and the boy seek refuge inside a Burger King. The video was part of a promotion in which if a client went in a clown costume to a Burger King restaurant between 21:00 and 01:00 on October 31st they gave him free whooper. The video was hung in the Instagram Page and the Youtube channel of Burger King Spain accompanied by the Hashtag “#ScaryClownNight” and at the time of writing this article has 530,971 views on youtube and has 267 relevant publications in Instagram (it should be noted that it is a fairly high number for a campaign of just over 2 years ago).
For its part, McDonald´s has not been left behind when it comes to mocking its biggest rival using Marketing. One of the most popular campaigns was the 2011 campaign with a rather simple name: “Package”. The campaign shows us a little boy who whenever he went to play at his favorite Skate park was bothered by several older boys who always stole his hamburger and McDonald’s fries so tired of the situation he resorts to a rather intelligent strategy: Disguise his burger pack with the Burger King logo. Automatically all the guys who stole his hamburger stopped and he could eat his fries in peace.
The campaign was hung only on the Facebook page of McDonald´s and got 1K likes in a matter of minutes and has been shared by more than 500k people in a matter of hours (even today 8 years after the launch of the campaign has been reloaded into several pages outside McDonald´s giving it even more virality.)
Another similar campaign was carried out by the Canadian division of McDonald´s which made a video showing how they installed two traffic signs showing the indications to get to the nearest McDonald´s (only 5 km away) and the nearest Burger King (238 km away and with a series of complicated indications). In the end, the video concluded that no matter where you were you would always have a McDonald’s nearby.
In a similar way to the last video it was only posted on the McDonald’s page but to date can be found on countless pages throughout Facebook increasing the reach of the campaign.
Who is the real winner?
At first sight the winner of this marketing campaign has been Burger King. Burger King has not only campaigned against McDonald´s but has done a lot of campaigns in which he takes advantage of the virality of social networks to become a meme (strategies that we will probably cover in future entries). It has made fun of McDonald´s in incredible ways, from advertising messing with the size of the BigMac calling it small to giving away free whoopers to people who burn McDonald´s advertising with a virtual reality application whose main utility is that: Scan McDonald´s advertising and “Burn it” revealing a coupon.
Now this Marketing strategy is quite controversial because if you are a small company it can lead your customers to misinterpret advertising against your competition as an unfair war. The way you can avoid these misunderstandings is to pre-negotiate with your competitors so that they both benefit from mocking each other and avoid legal problems. There is also the option of making a rather light and open mockery of any of your competitors or mocking competition from large transnationals. If you are a clothing store you can make fun of Tommy or Calvin Klein, if you are a pizzeria you could make fun of Pizza Hut or Papas Johns, if you are a Chicken food restaurant or a Méxican food Restaurant make fun of Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried chicken and so on in every area. It’s a smart way to promote yourself, making fun of big companies with complex marketing teams and in a way you are encouraging people to consume local product.