While many marketers are still at the “let’s build a fan page” stage of Facebook marketing, some are starting to go a step farther and experiment with application-driven engagement. Burger King, working with agency Crispin Porter, has launched a campaign that has been generating a ton of coverage and building buzz over the last few days.
Here’s how “Whopper Sacrifice” works:
- install the Facebook Application
- select 10 friends to “sacrifice
- get a coupon for a free Whopper
Here’s why it’s a brilliant campaign:
- People either love it or hate it. Which means they’re talking about it. A lot.
Those who love it love the ‘sheer evil’ of being able to see their friends go up in flames … all to get free fast food. It takes a Mad Magazine kind of sensibility to love that humour, which fits right in with BK’s young male target audience.
Those who hate it think it’s just plain dumb to sacrifice your friends — so they write posts to that effect, giving the campaign more publicity, and letting the fans feel superior because they have a better sense of humour. Besides, you can always add your friends back in.
- The Friend Sacrifice is public — giving all your other friends something to talk about.
When you ‘sacrifice’ a friend, a message is added to your news feed telling all your other friends that “Tonia just sacrificed Chris Carson for a free Whopper!” You publically humiliate your friend (again, that boy humour thing), and you get the rest of your network talking about this new game.
- It’s pointless. That’s the point.
There’s no redeeming social value to the application. Oh wait, maybe there is: my life will be better after I have sacrificed some friends and eaten a Whopper. It’s so much more fun than saving the rainforest with those dorky Little Green Patches…
Don’t get me wrong: the campaign has some flaws. When I first installed it and tried to sacrifice a friend (my sister, who else?), the application timed out 3 or 4 times before it let go on to the next screen. You might say it’s a good thing that they’re getting more traffic than they anticipated, but they should make sure they have enough server capacity to handle a successful campaign. It only works in the US, which is not very clearly stated up front and has left users in Canada and Europe crying foul.
But what the campaign does really well is capture the attitude-laden brand personality that BK has been working to establish to differentiate itself from the squeaky-happy-clean McDonalds brand. It’s a great example of marketing that works because it’s driven by the brand.
The campaign seems to be generating lots of viral buzz. As of this post, the application has 67,495 users. The Whopper Sacrifice web site claims that 195,367 friends have been sacrificed. A Google search turns up hundreds of articles and blog posts talking about the campaign; here’s one example of a post that’s turned up lots of comments such as:
“Best facebook app ever! I had so much fun deleting people “
Now if they could only come up with an application to delete the extra pounds gained from eating all those Angry Whoppers …
UPDATE: Inside Facebook reports that Facebook has partially disabled the application, citing “privacy issues” with publishing the de-friending in the news feed. More publicity for Burger King, and we haven’t seen any evidence of Facebook users complaining about this.