I wrote about Burger King’s Augmented Reality campaign recently. I have always been keenly observing Burger King’s marketing tactics and one thing stands out with consistency – their obsession with McDonald’s. (They do have their share of great non-McDonald’s ideas, of course, like… Burger King’s brilliant idea on Twitter – just ‘Like’ that!)
It’s almost as if they see themselves in comparison with McDonald’s. Almost as if they wouldn’t exist but for McDonald’s. That’s like the most common thread in superhero movies – the hero’s very purpose is to be the foil for a super-villain. Without the villain, the hero is not able to define him/herself independently. Not just superhero films – even ‘darkness’ is termed ‘absence of light’, much like religion’s ‘evil is the absence of God’ (and vice-versa).
Here’s a recap of Burger King’s efforts at trolling McDonald’s over the years.
 May 2019: Burger King Trolls McDonald’s With a Series of Scary Clown Ads: ‘Birthdays Should Be Happy’ (Advertising Agency: LOLA MullenLowe, Madrid, Spain)
 May 2019: Not Feeling Happy? Burger King Creates ‘Real Meals’ for More Complicated Emotions (Advertising Agency: MullenLowe, USA)
 April 2019: ‘They give fun. We grill’ (Advertising Agency: Brother Escuela de Creativos, Colombia)
 February 2019: ‘Whopper Detour’ (Advertising Agency: FCB, New York, USA)
 January 2019: Burger King Trolls McDonald’s Yet Again With an Entire Menu Mocking the Big Mac (Advertising Agency: Ingo Stockholm)
 January 2018: Burger King Just Dropped A New Burger That’s Literally Identical To One In The McDonald’s Menu
Press release: “We’d like to offer our deepest condolences to all the flat-top fried double quarter pound burgers out there. We’re flame grilling the competition”
 November 2018: “Come as a clown. Eat like a king” (Advertising Agency: MullenLowe, Spain)
 November 2013: Burger King takes on the Big Mac: Burger King has come out with a burger that is very similar to the iconic McDonald’s Big Mac
 April 2019: Burger King teases McDonald’s with well-placed fire safety billboards (Advertising Agency: Ingo Stockholm)
 August 2015: McWhopper: McDonald’s Declines Burger King’s ‘McWhopper’ Offer (Advertising Agency: Y&R New Zealand)
 November 2018: Burger King Flame-Grills Kanye West Over His Love For McDonald’s
 October 2017: Burger King Dressed Up As Ghost Of McDonald’s For Halloween (Advertising Agency: David, Miami)
 July 2015: Burger King convinces McDonald’s super fans to have their burger tattooed on them (Advertising Agency: David, Brazil)
 October 2017: Never trust a clown- Burger King trolls rival McDonald’s with epic marketing stunt at Stephen King’s IT pre-premiere (Advertising Agency: Grabarz and Partner, Germany)
This on-going war (from Burger King’s side; McDonald’s rarely reciprocates in kind, preferring to talk about itself and its customers instead of focusing its energies on a smaller rival) is reminiscent of the famous Cola Wars, between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Though, in case of the Cola Wars, both parties sparred with each other frequently, letting public opinion be the ultimate reward.
One reason why Burger King persists with this line of attack, as Michael Moss, the author of ‘Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ says in the November 2013 video (from CNN, above – No. 8) is that the sales of both companies rose when they attacked each other!
That is a rather intriguing premise!
To some extent, this is also a running narrative for Narendra Modi’s political campaigning. He incessantly frames himself and the BJP as the anti-Congress, invoking long-dead Congress leaders as a frame of reference of how bad things were. That is, even if the public wants to forget Congress and move away from the many excesses and misery caused by that party over the years, it seems Modi won’t let anyone do that!
It’s an interesting tactic because he’s framing himself against a party that was publicly shamed, decimated and literally thrown out of mainstream politics (deservedly so) in the 2014 election. He’s almost single-handedly giving that party credibility by talking about it so often, and keeping the memory of Congress party alive! It’s almost as if his very presence is defined by the lack of Congress party.
And now, if you recap Michael Moss’s statement, you’d see that ‘both parties win’ is eerily coming true! If Congress does better than their 2014 score in the 2019 elections—the results will be out next week anyway!—you know who to credit their victory to 🙂