November 10 was 'McHappy Day' in Argentina, the day when all sales from McDonald’s most famous burger are donated to help children with cancer. This year the Burger King brand decided to embrace that cause.
On that day, the Burger King left rivalry aside and decided not to sell any Whopper sandwiches. The decision went for all the 107 restaurants in Argentina. The idea was to motivate people to buy the competitor’s most famous burger to help as many children as possible. Whoever went to any BK restaurant and ordered a Whopper sandwich on McHappy Day, was politely asked to go to the nearest McDonald’s instead. It was captured on camera, with shocked patrons wondering what happened to their favorite burger.
Even the King, BK’s mascot, got into the act, going into his biggest competitor and buying a Big Mac to support children’s cancer, to big applause by the patrons. The Burger King employees were smart by telling people to go to their competitor, rather than naming the restaurant, saying “the place where they don’t flame grill their burgers.”
Lucina Cabrejas, marketing director at Burger King Argentina commented: “It was incredible to see how surprised guests were. But at the same time they took the invitation and the experience very seriously. Some crossed to our competition getting involved with the cause and others stayed in for a different sandwich. At the end of the day the message reached everyone.”
And for the fans of the famous flame-grilled burger, BK restaurants returned to sell Whopper sandwiches as soon as the McHappy Day ended.
The Drum chatted with Joaquín Cubría and Ignacio Ferioli, vice presidents and executive creative directors of David Buenos Aires, the agency that came up with the campaign.
What prompted this campaign of goodwill?
“Burger King does its own charity event every July. This year it helped Atomic Lab an NGO that prints 3D prosthetic arms for disabled kids. Since ‘McHappy Day’ is four months later, we thought it was a great opportunity to let differences aside and help our competitors,” said Cubria.
McDonald’s is the major competitor to Burger King. Why promote people going to their restaurant?
“Both events are quite far from each other. And we love the fact that asking people to buy from our competitors is the kind of thing that Burger King can do for McDonald’s, but could never happen the other way around. It is simply a matter of brand personality. We have a client that’s willing to take risks even if it means losing some profit in the process,” added Ferioli.
It says in the fine print at the end of the ad that McDonald’s did not “authorize or endorse” the gesture by Burger King. What was the response by McDonald’s Argentina after the fact?
“There was no official response, but there was an ‘off the record’ response. Some of their managers communicated with their counterparts at Burger King congratulating them on the campaign and staff members tweeted spontaneously thanking for the support, but of course we cannot give their names,” said Ferioli.
When the King went over to purchase a Big Mac, he was received with applause. What was the reaction like from customers in both Burger King and McDonald’s?
“The first reaction of the customers at McDonald’s was ‘what the hell?’ If you listen closely in the beginning of that scene a kid asks ‘What is the King doing here?’ But then everyone applauded the King's support. By the way, that’s something that child will never forget. Customers at Burger King were also shocked by the proposal. They mostly went from ‘This joke isn’t funny at all,’ to, ‘ok, it's cool that the brand let’s differences aside to help’. Of course, there were also some Whopper extremists who did not like the idea at all. We hope they might return some day,” said Cubria.
What kind of planning by David went into creating this campaign?
“It was born from our most sincere kindness. Then, we just made sure only key people new about it so it didn’t get spoiled or stopped until that day. Burger King staff in every restaurant across the country learned about A Day without Whopper that same morning through an internal memo signed by the National Sales Manager. They felt proud about the challenge. For one time only, the less they sold the better,” said Ferioli.
The words McDonald’s and Big Mac were bleeped out or not even uttered by the Burger King workers. How much of that was intentional or was it a legal issue?
“100% legal, the lawyers at Burger King did not sleep for two nights reviewing edits before airing,” said Cubria.
How much publicity did this stunt generate?
“A lot. Millions of impressions, tons of earned media, but that’s not what matters here. When McDonald’s announced the outcome of the event as they do every year – a public thank you to customers who walked in that day – the numbers showed they sold 73,437 Big Macs more than in 2016, the historic record for McHappy Day. So hopefully we had a lot to do with their growth,” added Ferioli.