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The 2009 Burger King "Whopper sacrifice" campaign

Burger King is an American fast-food chain founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida. Back then, it was called Insta-Burger King. When the company ran into financial difficulties a year after opening, David Edgerton and Jame McLamore purchased the company and renamed it to Burger King. Over the years, the company has come up with some pretty controversial ad campaigns, but did you ever hear of the Whopper Sacrifice Campaign?

In 2009, Burger King ran the “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign. They would give a free whopper to anyone who would delete 10 of their Facebook friends. Facebook suspended the program because Burger King started notifying people that they had been removed from a person’s friend list because of a burger.

How Did Burger King’s Infamous Facebook Ad Campaign Work? Crispin Porter & Bogusky was the ad agency that came up with the Whopper Sacrifice campaign in 2009. The ad basically offered a coupon for a free hamburger for every ten friends you deleted from your Facebook account. The marketing stunt was a wild success, the Facebook application was installed about 60,000 times in a matter of days, and about 20,000 Whopper coupons were issued. This meant that 200,000 people were deleted as friends. At this point, Facebook users started creating unofficial groups so that other users could add them to just delete them shortly for the sake of the Whopper Sacrifice. You’re going to be faced with a lot of questions, and you’re going to be faced with a lot of what-ifs, and you’re going to be faced with a lot of bells and whistles added on. Whopper Sacrifice was one that went viral with pretty much zero media budget. We had a few small media banners on Facebook itself, but outside of that we had a press release and that was it. It blew up because it was something that really resonated with people Matt Walsh, Head of Interaction Design, Crispin Porter & Bogusky (Source: CNet) Did the Campaign Last Long? The ad only ran for ten days since Facebook cancelled the campaign claiming it was against their users’ privacy. The Whopper Sacrifice ad notified the deleted friends telling them that they had been removed.

It’s something that to a user is a very easy message to communicate. Sacrifice ten of your friends, get a free Whopper. It’s got kind of the ultimate elevator pitch. I don’t know how many of you actually got sacrificed out there, but condolences to you. The ad challenged the very concept of Facebook. Whopper Sacrifice had been sacrificed. Matt Walsh, Head of Interaction Design, Crispin Porter & Bogusky

The idea behind the campaign was straightforward, but the decision-making process was more anthropological. It showed how the Whopper Sacrifice’s popularity would tap the real tension within the digital culture and how social networking in this platform changed our views on friendship.

For so long, friendship in the social space has kind of been a form of social currency, social networks’ entire system is kind of dependent on you aggregating as many of your friends as possible in the network, ballooning as quickly as possible, but at the end of the day that’s all fine and good in the ramp-up when everything is novel. Quite a few years into the social-networking arena now, there’s really a question of what is friendship in the 2.0 world? Matt Walsh, Head of Interaction Design, Crispin Porter & Bogusky (Source: CNet)


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