"People don't want to be "marketed TO"; they want to be "communicated WITH"." ~ Flint McGlaughlin

Customer surveys, focus groups and sales data can tell you some things about what customers think of your product. But how do you really gauge how deeply your customers care about it? Burger King’s answer was to take that product away.

The company invented a curious fusion of

1.  an innovative market research approach and
buzz marketing.

In a stunt aptly named the “Whopper Freak-out!” Burger King made one of their US branches a “Whopper Free Zone”. Using hidden cameras, they simply recorded the reactions of their customers upon being told “Sorry, we no longer serve Whoppers.” The contorted disbelieving faces told the company more of a story than answers on a survey every could (watch the clip).

In addition, the stunt and movie created a new buzz about the company. Earlier Burger King launched a number of online buzz marketing campaigns. One of them was a part of the "Angus Diet" effort for its Angus burger.1 The site featured fictional self-help guru Dr. Angus dispensing interactive "Angus Interventions", intended to be humorous ways of stepping into a friend's life and reminding him that life should be enjoyed. The site offered about 30 pre-made "interventions", which could be tailored with a recipients name and other personal details. The user could then email a link to friends that would bring them to a site where an animated Dr. Angus would read the customized script using Oddcast's text-to-speech technology.



Created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky of 'Subservient Chicken' fame, the interventions parodied the self-help movement's use of affirmations by providing users with a list of humorous alternatives – including '"Stop Spreading Companywide Emails" and "Stop Wearing Underwear All The Time".  Users could also submit their own suggestions for new Interventions, which would be added.

As with Burger King's Subservient Chicken campaign, the reasoning behind Angus Interventions was that people would spread the word about this site because it was humorous, and because it was customizable to fit their own lives, according to Jeff Benjamin, creative director at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. "We learned from Subservient Chicken that people want to be able to customize what's happening. When we originally concepted it, we didn't have so much customization. We were going to use real voice clips, but we decided it would be more interesting if Dr. Angus could say what you wanted him to. The added customization made the intervention make much more sense," he said.



The campaign was meant to be a branding vehicle, but it's also meant to work in concert with TV and radio spots to increase the Burger King brand presence, Benjamin said. "You'll play with Dr. Angus online, then see a TV spot, and that sort of brand presence means that much more to you. These things are there to work together to sell in the long run."

Both 'Subservient Chicken'  and 'Dr. Angus' campaigns targeted the elusive and highly coveted segment of 18- to 34-year-old men, a group that is often considered resistant to traditional ads. 





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1. Burger King's Back With New Buzz, Kevin Newcomb, ClickZ

2. SIT, Burger King, and the Take-Away, Grant Harris