NZ ad agency behind Burger King’s global ‘McWhopper’ campaign

Y&R NZ was behind the creative concept of Burger King’s worldwide viral marketing stunt in which McDonald’s is invited to fuse the two burger chains’ iconic burgers — the Whopper and the Big Mac.

Burger King kicked off the passive aggressive marketing stunt by running two full page ‘open letter’ ads in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday morning US time. A dedicated website has also been set up for the ‘McWhopper.’

The ambush campaign has garnered extensive social media and press coverage, with the likes of The Guardian, TIME, The Telegraph and The Wall St Journal, among countless others.

Burger King hopes to commemorate Peace Day on September 21 with the burger fusion.

If McDonald's agrees, Burger King says that on that date a pop-up McWhopper restaurant will be set up in Atlanta – the halfway point between Burger King’s Miami headquarters and McDonald’s base in Chicago. So no McWhoppers for Kiwis, regardless.

In a Facebook post, McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook said “we love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference.”

He invited Burger King to “join us in a meaningful global effort.”

“And every day, let's acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled [sic] circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.

“We’ll be in touch.”

Mr Easterbrook also quipped that “a simple phone call will do next time.”

His statement doesn’t appear to have pacified the social media onslaught, however, with the most ‘liked’ comments on Facebook saying it was a lacklustre response.

The McWhopper campaign is being launched around the world, with the New Zealand renditions being launched today and tomorrow.

Globally, McDonald’s spent about $936.6 million on advertising last year, while Burger King spent $237.2 million, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media.

Many late nights
Y&R NZ chief executive and chief creative Josh Moore says the campaign is the result of “perseverance, late nights and an 18-month collaboration” with the global Burger King marketing team.

“When we first tabled this idea with Burger King we knew it was a long shot – asking a global icon to take their hero product and blend it with that of their biggest competitor.

“But we’ve been totally overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and appetite for big thinking and bold ideas at all levels of Burger King. I only hope McDonald’s jump on board and make this a monumental event in the name of Peace Day. Let’s end the beef, with beef.”

Burger King global brand management senior vice president Fernando Machado says Y&R pitched the concept in early 2014 and since then the project has been a collaborative effort between several agencies in different locations.

Y&R also worked with NZ-based production companies Assembly, Fish, Liquid Studios and Resn.

“We all really hope that the collaboration can now extend to McDonald’s. We have the chance to make history together if they say ‘yes’. And if they say ‘no’, at least we raised awareness of Peace Day, which is the ultimate objective of the campaign,” Mr Machado says.

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