The Duality of Burger King’s Moldy Whopper

Burger King’s recent advert has proven rather divisive among its target consumers.

Launched in February, Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” campaign was presumably a tactic to relay the message of the fast-food titan’s return to natural ingredients. Though consistent with their previous brand overhaul in January, BK’s new approach to marketing seems to involve adopting rather experimental tactics in attempts to generate a high volume of awareness and interaction.

Needless to say, their campaign was successful in theory, but could also be perceived as a double-edged sword.

They say looks can kill…

Social media reception has been mixed in varying degrees of positive and negative responses.

The main problem with social media marketing has always been that despite its ability to generate massive amounts of engagement and impressions, it doesn’t necessarily translate into tangible sales.

In contrast, it is much easier for a poorly received or outright contemptible piece of content to betray the customer’s expectations and in turn, taint their perception of the brand.

BK’s “Moldy Whopper” can only be described as an example of the latter because it chooses not to play by the traditional rules of fast-food marketing, which uses the delectability of their products as the focal point for the entire campaign. Instead, they tried to subvert expectations in favor of conveying a deeper message.

While there is sound logic behind this decision, what Burger King’s marketing team may have slightly overestimated is the audience’s ability to look past the initial shock of the advert. In reality, the only takeaway the average consumer may choose to receive from this imagery is a negative correlation between Burger King products and mold. Though the idea is actually very nuanced and aligned with their remodeled brand, it is sadly inevitable that its controversial nature may miss the mark with some.

For those who got the message…

If you are a person who was able to discern the true nature of this marketing strategy, it actually becomes quite a genius play in terms of brand consistency and creativity.

As one of the first major adverts released post-rebrand, Burger King seemingly had big aspirations to cement their new positioning as a fast-food business now focused on using natural ingredients. Well what better way to get the message across then showing everyone that their products decompose, an inescapable process for any organic item.

This idea may have been implemented to garner appeal to both individuals shifting towards living a healthier lifestyle and those concerned with the health risks in constant consumption of formulaic, mass-produced cuisine.

This may have also been a reference to other restaurants within the fast-food industry that still base their products on artificial ingredients, as a few examples were shown to experience an organic breakdown differently.

From Business Insider / YouTube

Overall, the advert was able to capture a lot of initial attention with their unorthodox imagery but ended up increasing retention for progressive individuals concerned with the composition and nutritional safety of their favorite fast-food items.