Burger King Takes A Marketing Risk

Marketing is tricky. Sometimes you make a push for something big regarding product placement and it works. Sometimes your heart is in the right place but you misread the audience and your strategy is a complete disaster. Burger King took a million dollar gamble and seemingly won, as the Burger King mascot, who you may or may not see haunting your dreams, accompanied Floyd Mayweather to the ring last Saturday night. The fast food chain reportedly paid $1 million for the privilege to do so.

There’s a saying that “all publicity is good publicity”, and having your brand associate itself with somebody accused of domestic violence tests that theory. On one hand, there were more eyes on this event than most sporting events, and to take a ubiquitous, background type presence can reach into the deep recesses of your brain and make you think “damn, I want one of those Angry Whoppers … do they still make those?” But this isn’t mere signage. This is a mascot walking directly behind a very controversial figure. Burger King haunting mascot was a part of this guy’s entourage.

Burger King obviously doesn’t stand with spousal abuse … or at least I hope not. But this, like all business and advertising strategy, is about money. This is especially true when you are dealing with somebody whose “lifestyle brand” is called “The Money Team”. To some, associating ones brand with someone who is all about money and has a reputation as someone without a shred of decency is an outrage beyond reproach. To others, it’s no big deal and it’s nothing more than product placement at a big event. If Burger King guy reached your conscious, you’re likely to be appalled at this. If instead he reaches your subconscious, then you probably just got hungry and wonder if they can put onion petals on a regular Whopper. And they have to hope that the subconscious level of placement outweighs the conscious level of outrage. But either way, everybody is talking about the goofy Burger King mascot because he has reached more eyeballs than thought humanly possible at a sporting event that doesn’t start with Super and end with Bowl.

It’s a million dollar gamble. But something tells me they’re betting on the subconscious winning by split decision.

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