The Goal of Marketing Gold



Last winter, Burger King launched an advertising campaign its own Chief Marketing Officer called “the opposite of direct marketing.”

Burger King offered customers a Whopper for just one cent. But there was a catch. Customers needed to download the BK mobile app and use it to place a carryout order while they were inside or near a McDonald’s restaurant

It was called the Whopper Detour. 

Yes, Burger King directed customers to a competitor’s store. Were they mad?!

As it turns out – no, not at all. It worked brilliantly. 

The campaign went viral on social media, catapulted the BK app to the very top of the download charts, and increased customer visits to the highest level in years.

Burger King broke every rule in the book. 

They asked customers to go out of their way, visit the competition, and created a complex process. They called it “the opposite of direct marketing.”

But was it? Is this electronic process all that different from the stickers, tokens, and scratch offs that publishers and fundraisers include in sweepstake mailings?

Burger King isn’t “in pursuit of random ideas.” The goal was to increase downloads of the BK app. Mission accomplished. Over the course of just ten days, the app was downloaded more than 1.5 million times. 

The app provides the company with a direct line to its customers. Coupons and notifications can be sent instantly and at any time. If GPS location services are enabled, which was required for the Whopper Detour campaign, customers can even receive offers whenever they happen to be near a McDonald’s. 

In the end, the goal wasn’t so different from traditional direct marketing – just taking a creative “detour” beforehand. 

Though a campaign like this almost certainly doesn’t suit most nonprofit and fundraising organizations, Burger King’s CMO, Fernando Machado, stresses the key takeaway – all campaigns “should be doing something in the direction of the objectives you have.” 

It’s a great example of how thinking outside the box can be really successful as long it’s not “creativity for creativity’s sake.”