‘We had a response in three minutes’: behind Burger King’s record-breaking Kanye tweet

The tweet picked up more than a million likes

Burger King UK’s response to Kanye West’s love of McDonald’s is now the most-liked branded tweet of all time. The secret behind the salty social success? Established social listening and a rapid sign-off process, according to the tweet’s author James Parker.

‘Explains a lot’ – the three words that blasted the Burger King UK handle to the top of the social charts – was composed by Parker on a regular day at the office. The social creative was finishing a video edit at Coolr, Burger King’s social agency, when its founder Adam Clyne witnessed West declare McDonald’s to be his favourite restaurant on Twitter.

The chief executive had picked up on Ye’s assertion courtesy of the agency’s social listening strategy, which flags mentions of both Burger King and all its competitors.

“I jumped into a conversation about what Burger King could do and shortly came up with our response,” Parker told The Drum. “In three minutes, we had a simple response ready.”

Parker, who has worked on content for the likes of Lad Bible, Guinness and Tropicana, admitted to crafting a few tweets that have “blown up” before. However none have come close to hitting 1m likes.

“I was rather confident it would do well given how concise and out of the blue a tweet like this must seem coming from the verified Burger King UK page, [but it's] safe to say that none of us thought it would be the most liked branded tweet of all time. I spent the hours and days following watching the numbers, bumping the tweet or responding to people.”

The ‘explains a lot’ comeback was both simple and on-brand: Burger King, alongside its fast food rivals Wendy’s and KFC, has gradually built a conversational, sassy tone of voice across its marketing channels. But Parker believes it was the speed in which @BurgerKingUK responded that cemented its success.

“Coolr has a great relationship with the marketing team over at Burger King, which means the sign-off process is much quicker than at other agencies,” he said. “Sometimes an idea can be ruined by too many cooks, whereas both Burger King and Coolr pride themselves on agility, which is how the Kanye tweet came to life.

“This is not a nine-to-five approach. The team lives and breathes social and are constantly messaging about potential activations. We do go really granular on what we think will work and debate a lot. There is an approval process but it’s instant and real-time - both internally and with the client.”

Parker believes the success of ‘explains a lot’ proves the power of reaction when it comes to brand accounts. Audiences, he reckons, expect “clean-cut sponsored content” from corporate handles, meaning an off-the-cuff tweet is automatically amplified in a sanitised landscape – if done correctly.

Unfortunately, however, West did not respond to the tweet the way a million others did.

“Two days after the initial Burger King tweet, [he] put out a Rick and Morty McDonald's reference with no caption,” remembered Parker. “People immediately linked us in the replies, but we weren't sure if Mr West was actually responding.”

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