Burger King has launched a global advertising campaign depicting mouldy burgers. The intention is to prove the absence of preservatives in its ingredients.
The marketing and advertising world is aghast, as a rule of thumb is never to show your product looking bad. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would eat a burger immediately after seeing the close-up images of wispy grey fungi growing across a bun. But the campaign is tackling customer demand for lower-processed ingredients, and deep-running myths about fast food.
The campaign challenges a belief in the corporate world that the public can’t be trusted with the truth. The mouldy burger campaign can only work if the public are capable of understanding a relatively simple notion; that all food will decompose.
The campaign also acknowledges a very important reality about customers: their information is stronger than yours. That is, what people tell each other about a company or product is many, many more times effective than what the company says.
We once worked with a multinational FMCG brand plagued by similar myths about the health effects of its product, which were affecting sales against competing ‘healthier’ products. We concluded that no marketing campaign could work while the much stronger myths were passing between customers.
So we embarked on a myth-busting campaign over many years – suppressing their prevalence by challenging them wherever they were encountered; in media, over the internet, and in general conversation.
A sad thing about the Burger King campaign is that it will be short-lived; telling the truth is sometimes just an arresting marketing gimmick.