Saturday, January 17, 2009

Burger King vacates its throne

I've never been overly fond of fast food restaurants. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate everything that's wrong with them. Sure, they provide predictably consistent food at reasonable prices. But the cost on so many levels exceeds any net benefits these places may have.

Stand outside a drive-through at one of these places around dinnertime and you'll see a snippet of what I mean.

So I admit to having a bit of a negative bias every time I cross paths with a commercial or an ad for one of these places. Ronald McDonald is not my kids' friend, Wendy does not care about childhood obesity and the Burger King is not a benevolent leader of a peaceful kingdom. Feel-good spots with gently emotional piano chords playing over soft-faced parents sharing their deepest feelings about the impact of these familiar places on their family life won't change my mind, either. They exist to sell more lousy food to a population that can ill afford it. What else is there to say?

News this week that Burger King was ending its Whopper Sacrifice promotion made me smile a little bit. Whopper Sacrifice was a promotion that asked users to install a Facebook application which gave them credit for a free burger for every 10 friends they deleted from their friends list. To add insult to injury, the application would send these newly unfriended friends a cheeky message. Your so-called friend traded you for a sandwich. Nice.

I can go on about the privacy implications of this application, but that's not what's really at issue here. To put it bluntly, this was a mean-spirited way of promoting an artery-clogging sandwich. I guess the folks at Facebook eventually agreed, because they disabled the app last week.

Call me naive or just plain McCain-esque for the way I cling to my old fashioned beliefs like Linus holds onto his blanket. But using nastiness as the basis for a marketing message just doesn't do it for me. I know a lot of lazy marketing-minded folks out there will disagree with me. They'll say you need to amp up the volume if you're going to be heard in today's cluttered messaging environment.

My contention: you can connect with your audience just as effectively by not resorting to the kind of behaviors that would have gotten you permanently relocated to the hallway outside your Kindergarten class. And if you're not creative enough to manage that, maybe you're in the wrong field.

By my estimate, there are just over 23,000 folks out there who defriended over 230,000 folks out there and will soon be eating the fruits of their ill-gotten labor. From where I sit, I wouldn't want to be friends with any one of them.

Your turn: Am I too much of an Andy Rooney-like curmudgeon here?


Anonymous said...

Wow. I think I have to agree with you here, Carmi. I had not heard of this "promotion" prior to reading about it here, but it truly turned my stomach. I mean, really, what was the point?

Mike Wood said...

that is a perversion of privacy. how ridiculous. glad its gone.

Bobkat said...

Me neither! I hadn't heard about this promotion but it's basic premise is just plain wrong! You said it all my friend. And that's yet another reason why I haven't set foot in one of these establishments for around 12 years now and why I won't be changing that any time soon.

Netchick sent me over this time to join in your rant!

lissa said...

Not only would I NEVER call you McCain-esque, I totally agree. To ask people to do something so irrelevant and inane for an ad is just a lose-lose situation. Privacy issues notwithstanding (that's a whole other blog entry, right?), it's just wrong on so many levels!

Ya got my vote, here. Aye Aye!

Katney said...

Never have liked any of the BK commercials, and blatantly avoid the franchise. Admittedly, I do occasionally stop through one of the others for convenience.

We had an interesting experience while on vacation. We went into McDonald's because we did not want to cook at our camp. DH was having some tummy troubles, and chose something mentioning that he thought it might be the best thing to try under the circumstances. The gal behind the counter said, "I wouldn't eat that even if I didn't have a stomache ache." (Her recommendation was yogurt.)

But Andy Rooney? I like Andy Rooney!

Anonymous said...

Ha! That made me laugh. While I understand your disdain, no one "made" those people do it... I think it just goes to show what people will do for something "free." *shakes head*

I like the new theme, aged. *looks for something that will apply*

Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Carmi, your mug shot is uncanny, like mine!

I hadn't heard of the defriending burger ad campaign, sounds off the chart.

Snaggle Tooth said...

I worked at such a spot in the '90's, n am glad I got away from it- Such fad-based sales feeding off the public any way they can get your dollars.

That recent fragrance peddling may've killed me off due to my allergies too.
Shameless, the way they make money for the franchise owners, while underpaying all the employees!

I don't do facebook yet- I heard something about you can slap/punch/bomb folks on that network for fun- this promo is taking advantage of all the Punks out there.

Another check in the "undesirable" column for the place here-

Too bad there are so many young, rude punks out there to take advantage of. Time to grow up!

Anonymous said...

I never heard about the Facebook app, nor would I have used it. That's just plain dumb.

Fast food has become an American addiction; it's fast, cheap, and predictable. Unfortunately, fast food has long outlived us and as we're now discovering, it's leading us into record-breaking obesity.

I like your post, by the way. :)

b13 said...

I honestly know all the people on my FB page and wouldn't necessarily do this. However, there are a lot of "Friend whores" that just add people to pump up their list. If they can get free food out of deleting a few people that really don't mean much... hey, power to them.

Unknown said...

I would totally trade friends for some deep fried goodness. If I had any real ones. Great, now I'm all depressed. And I want fries.

Love ya, Carmi;)

kenju said...

I definitely agree, Carmi. I didn't know about it before, but I am glad of that. I don't eat at BK, seldom go to McD's and Wendy's is okay for somethings, but not often.

Star said...

Only if I am as well. When I heard about the BK/Facebook promo I thought it was a reflection on the sincerity of Facebook friendships. And I am no fan of fast food places. I find it difficult to go inside one. They have a distinctive ambience.

Hilary said...

That's a most bizarre campaign. I don't do fast food, so I'm not even all that aware of their ads. That one borders on obscene.

bobbie said...

I am struck by how many commenters said they had never heard of this promotion. I hadn't either. So I guess it never got off the ground? I'm glad if that's so.

The Burger King in our town closed down. Now if we could get hte McD's to do the same... That would be a plus in my book.

Unknown said...

You McCain you! Seriously, that promo sounds lame.

Linda said...

I saw that facebook thing...and I posted that none of my friends was worth sacrificing for a sandwich. There are currently a few folks on my list that I really don't need there any more (they were in my spouse's former unit, and it was more of a way of keeping track of them than it was being "friends"), but as yet, I've not deleted them. I wouldn't have deleted them for a whopper anyway.

I'm not a fan of fast food, particularly now since I've been living in a hotel for close to a month...but it's convenient and cheap. I'll be paying for it all for the next year as I try to take off the fat and pounds added by eating all of this crud this past month....sigh.

Jennifer said...

i heard about the promo and thought it was the stupidest thing ever!!!!!

Pamela said...

I'd not heard about this ad -- but I don't do Facebook (yet)

But, I can tell you that the ads which star the King really freak me out.

Mojo said...

I dunno about you, but that Burger King guy skeeves me out! I remember seeing TV ads of this guy being outside the window when somebody'd open the blinds first thing in the morning. Talk about creepy! This is the stuff slasher flicks are made of.

I'm surprised all you had to do was delete the friends from your Facebook account -- and not from the world at-large!