McWhopper PR Stunt Gives Burger King a Boost

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Burger King’s proposal to McDonald’s to get together and make a McWhopper proved to be a clever bit of PR, even if McDonald’s didn’t take the bait.

Image: Burger King
Image: Burger King

Yesterday, Burger King ran full-page ads in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune proposing a temporary truce in the so-called burger wars. Miami-based Burger King called for creating a popup restaurant in Atlanta on Sept. 21 that would be staffed by employees from both franchises who would sell a McWhopper, a calorie-busting blend of both restaurants’ iconic sandwiches.

Sept. 21 is significant because it also happens to be Peace Day, a United Nations declared day of ceasefire and nonviolence. The proceeds from sales of the McWhopper were to go to Peace One Day, a nonprofit that is looking to raise awareness of Peace Day and make it an annual global event.

Along with the ads, Burger King created a website, McWhopper.com, and also generated a great deal of buzz on social media.

McDonald’s turned down the offer with a carefully worded statement by chief executive Steve Easterbrook. “We love the intention, but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference,” Easterbrook wrote.

The stunt was still a PR win for Burger King, a company that has been losing market share to McDonald’s and other restaurant franchises that are offering healthier choices. With this one campaign, the fast food company generated a great deal of earned media and reestablished its relevance with the public. And that’s good PR, no matter how you slice it.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell