MIAMI Burger King Corp. introduced this week its newest Whopper advertising campaign, featuring television and online ads that show “Whopper virgins” in remote regions around the world who taste the sandwich for the first time against McDonald’s Big Mac.
The various ads were shot in Thailand, Romania and Greenland, Burger King said Thursday, and the taste tests were conducted by a third-party research firm. The ads were filmed by documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta, who is best known for "Dogtown" and "Made in America." Burger King developed a website, www.whoppervirgins.com, to reveal "results" from the taste tests.
“With this new campaign, we sought the purest proof that the flame-broiled Whopper sandwich is a favorite,” Russ Klein, president of global marketing, strategy and innovation, said in a statement.
“The test revealed priceless reactions as the ‘virgins’ tasted the flame-broiled goodness of a Whopper sandwich for the first time,” said Burger King’s statement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the ads already are stirring up controversy as marketing bloggers and observers questioned whether the campaign is exploitative of third-world consumers not accustomed to U.S. fast-food offerings and advertising techniques.
Burger King said after each taste test the company worked with local authorities to make donations in each region. For example, the company donated educational supplies and toys in Thailand and Greenland and helped fund the restoration of a 17th century church in Romania.
The campaign follows last year’s “Whopper Freakout,” which took a reality-television approach by filming customers’ reactions to Burger King restaurants that claimed to no longer sell the Whopper sandwich.
The marketing techniques of both Burger King and rival McDonald’s have been cited by restaurant analysts as a key driver behind their continued success in today’s weak economic environment. For its latest quarter, which ended in September, Burger King posted a 3-percent increase in same-store sales at locations in United States and Canada.
Burger King operates or franchises more than 11,600 units worldwide.