Burger King Corp.’s integrated marketing tie-in to the upcoming superhero movie “Thor” contains a digital component that a branding expert said could power the campaign’s engagement with children, who are spending more time online.
As part of its sponsorship of Marvel Entertainment’s “Thor,” Miami-based Burger King is offering exclusive digital-comics chapters to customers who visit its kids’ website, www.ClubBK.com, and enter codes available from the purchase of a Kids’ Meal. The four comic strips act as a prequel to the movie, which opens in theaters May 6.
The more than 12,000-unit chain is the latest quick-service burger brand to reach out to young customers with digital campaigns.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s, for example, recently launched a children’s website, McWorld.com., that is heavy on kid-related content but conspicuously missing a pitch for burgers and fries. Beginning May 23, Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s will host “Wendy’s Family Week” on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show, encouraging viewers to match game pieces from Wendy’s Kids’ Meals to promotional puzzles on the show in order to enter an online sweepstakes and win a Caribbean cruise for a family of four.
Burger King’s “Thor” tie-in also involves national TV advertising, which will feature footage from the film and a pitch for the chain’s new chicken tenders, as well as Kids’ Meal prizes, including action figures, wearable accessories, a toy hammer and a journal.
“Through our work with Marvel, we’re able to offer our younger guests unseen access to this hot property, but we know that the exclusive comic content will also appeal to customers of all ages who follow Thor’s story,” Andreas Barth, Burger King’s senior vice president of North American marketing, said in a statement.
The online comics available only through Burger King gives the chain’s young customers another way to interact with the brand and feel like they get something of value from the relationship, said Stefan Tornquist, U.S. research director at Econsultancy, a digital-marketing firm in New York.
“Young people like to feel connected to brands and see them respond to them,” Tornquist said. “It can be direct like a coupon, or content they couldn’t get otherwise like the Thor comic. It’s important to have different things available through these channels. You can see the ‘Thor’ trailer anywhere, but this limited-edition comic has a unique quality.”
Tornquist said the digital components work well with young consumers because those customers gravitate toward those channels as much as they do to traditional broadcast media.
“Everybody who’s grown up with the Internet, by and large, uses more and more types of media without letting go of the ones that came before,” he said. “Young people use everything. Any campaign which uses exclusively one thing or the other is not going to take full advantage. You need TV to get the big brand message across, because it’s hard to aggregate that huge audience digitally.”
As part of the campaign, Burger King said it would give customers access to a secret password that grants a year of free access to more than 100 digital comics from Marvel. The chain has credited movie tie-ins to strong summertime sales in recent years. In 2009, Burger King sponsored action blockbusters “Star Trek,” “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” as well as tween and teen favorite “Twilight Saga: New Moon.” In 2008, Burger King partnered with “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
McDonald’s also ties its Happy Meals to kid-friendly movies, including its recent promotion with “Shrek Forever After.” At McWorld.com, children navigate toward different games and not advertisements for McDonald’s products. However, users can enter codes from Happy Meal boxes to unlock extras, like gear for their online avatars.
The important takeaway from the burger brands’ digital efforts is that they encourage engagement rather than only broadcast a brand message, Tornquist of Econsultancy said.
“These campaigns all take advantage of the interactive capabilities of the Internet, getting some piece of engagement into the mix,” he said. “That’s the hardest part for marketers and their agencies to do well, but it’s also the big opportunity.”
Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected]