BK's Whopper Virgins Make Point or Make Fun?

Burger King has to take on the underdog role as it goes up against McDonald's in the fast food burger wars. Its latest approach to making market share inroads is to put BK's signature burger, the Whopper, against McDonald's iconic Big Mac in a taste test. But this is not your typical blind taste test. BK says to find impartial judges, it must venture to lands where people are unfamiliar with hamburgers, let alone the BK and McDonald's brands.

The result is the current "Whopper Virgins" campaign developed by BK's ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The shop that created the Subservient Chicken is back at it again for BK. Comparative advertising can be a very effective technique for contrasting the benefits of your brand relative to competitive offerings. It worked effectively for Pepsi in the 1980s. More recently, comparative ads have been used by Apple Computer to take digs at Microsoft's Windows platform.

The question surrounding BK's campaign is whether it exploits or makes fun of less sophisticated consumers (if you consider having no knowledge of fast food restaurants makes one less sophisticated). Having typical customers render a judgment on whether the Whopper or Big Mac tastes better would be accepted common practice. Creating a scene that reminds one of a National Geographic TV special as the setting for a taste test may be too bizarre for some tastes. But, that is the MO of Crispin Porter & Bogusky, push the envelope on conventions to create memorable advertising.

Link: Ad Age - "Burger King, Crispin's Latest Stunt: 'Whopper Virgins'"