Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why McDonald's couldn't accept Burger King's peace offering #McWhopper

I wrote early yesterday about Burger King's brilliant PR coup for Peace One Day: A challenge to arch(es) rival McDonald's to build a combination of their two classic burgers as a symbol for peace.

The ploy worked, not just because it picked up endless press, but because the response from McDonald's was cold and patronizing.

But while the wording of the response was a PR failure, there are several reasons that McDonald's basically had to turn BK down.

1. When you're #1, you don't acknowledge competition

McDonald's has been faltering lately, but they still own the category of fast food burgers. By making this proposal to the Golden Arches, Burger King was putting the two brands of equal footing. This would be unacceptable to the traditional top dog brand strategy, which is to not acknowledge the competition. There might be some exceptions, but in general McDonald's expresses its #1 status by pretending it has no competitors, just as Coke doesn't talk about Pepsi. It's up to the competitors to take down the kind of the hill.

2. The McWhopper makes one seem better than the other.

Watch this video from the campaign microsite:

Note the subtleties. BK didn't call the Big Mac/Whopper blend the "Big Whopper." That's because the very name Whopper is a reminder that the burger, introduced in 1957 (10 years before the Big Mac) is about "bigger."

Now look at the proposed burger:

The Big Mac upper half is dwarfed by the Whopper bottom half. This is a shot at the Big Mac brand.

Now, look at how the ingredients are described:

By using only one of the "two all beef patties" and 2/3 of the 3-layer bun, they almost yell out Wendy's old line of "Where's The Beef?" The Whopper ingredients, however, focus on fresh toppings and "flame grilled" patty.

3. Even the packaging is skewed

Who gets the most real estate on the box?

4. There's already been a "McWhopper" 

Thirty years ago, McDonald's genuinely tried to imitate the Whopper with the utter failure of the McDLT.

I was only 15 at the time, but I distinctly recall referring to the obvious imitation as a "McWhopper." Maybe it was just me, but even the proposed mashup burger brought back memories of that disaster.

So, to accept this challenge as stated, McDonald's would have to first acknowledge Burger King as an equal rival, then deal with the various slights that BK made against their signature brand.

The stunt, which according to AdFreak was a collaborative effort between Y&R in New Zealand, Code & Theory, Alison Brod Public Relations, The David Agency, Rock Orange, Turner Duckworth and Horizon, was pure brilliance. It was also designed to "fail" in getting McDonald's onboard. However, I'm not sure that the agencies and the BK fold could have anticipated how poorly MCDonald's would fumble the response.

Regardless, it was a huge success in building up Burger King's cool, as well as making Peace One Day a topic of conversation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Burger King wants to make love, not war, with McDonald's #PeaceDay

This is awesome, and not just as a marketing coup.

Burger King today placed this full-page ad in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, offering to collaborate with McDonald's on a "McWhopper" for Peace One Day.

Burger Business quotes Fernando Machado, Burger King SVP for Global Brand Management: “We’re being completely transparent with our approach because we want them to take this seriously,” Machado says. “It would be amazing if McDonald’s agrees to do this. Let’s make history and generate a lot of noise around Peace Day. If they say no, we’ll hopefully have, at the very least, raised much-needed financial support and consciousness for the great cause that is Peace One Day. And both are well worth the effort.”

McDonald's, however, did not take the burger bait:

I'm not surprised, but I'm still a little disappointed. It was a fun and clever ploy, however McDonald's countered coldly with a holier-than-thou attitude. In the end, though, I now know about Peace One Day. And yesterday, I did not. The bigger question is, what am I going to do about it?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

British wine campaign makes a vintage joke in bad taste

Premier Estates Wine, a British importer, has decided to recycle a very old sight gag to get publicity for its products. With the tagline "#tastethebush, they've taken to Twitter and YouTube:

They call it "the brand’s playful, tongue-in-cheek tone that’s born from classic British humour."  I call it a bad pun.

But hey, here's your attention:

I tend to agree with the complaint about Australian wines. Monty Python once compared the bouquet of one to an armpit (with regrettable racism). It makes you wonder why a UK wine seller wants to compare the taste of their Shiraz to the great down under.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The FDA treats Kim Kardashian's Instagram selfie as an ad campaign

Here's the text of the post, in full:
OMG. Have you heard about this? As you guys know my #morningsickness hasbeen pretty bad. I tried changing things about my lifestyle, like my diet, butnothing helped, so I talked to my doctor. He prescribed me #Diclegis, and I felt alot better and most importantly, it’s been studied and there was no increased riskto the baby. I’m so excited and happy with my results that I’m partnering withDuchesnay USA to raise awareness about treating morning sickness. If you havemorning sickness, be safe and sure to ask your doctor about the pill with thepregnant woman on it and find out more; 

It's been no secret that many celebrities' social media endorsements are for sale. Five years ago, I blogged about the brazenness with which their followings are bought and sold as commercial media.

Product placements are rampant on narcissistic selfie feeds with millions of dedicated followers, but somehow the United States government decided that this selfie crossed the line into pharmaceutical advertising.

After Ms. Kardashian posted this blatant endorsement to her 42.6 million followers in July, the US Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the manufacturer of the anti-morning-sickness medication, demanding immediate elimination of the post:
The Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the Kim Kardashian Social Media Post (social media post) (2015-0069-01) 1 for DICLEGIS (doxylamine succinate and pyridoxine hydrochloride) delayed-release tablets, for oral use (DICLEGIS) submitted by Duchesnay, Inc. (Duchesnay) under cover of Form FDA 2253. The social media post was also submitted as a complaint to the OPDP Bad Ad Program. The social media post is false or misleading in that it presents efficacy claims for DICLEGIS, but fails to communicate any risk information associated with its use and it omits material facts. Thus, the social media post misbrands DICLEGIS within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and makes its distribution violative. 21 U.S.C. 352(a), (n); 321(n); 331(a). See 21 CFR 202.1(e)(5). These violations areconcerning from a public health perspective because they suggest that DICLEGIS is safer than has been demonstrated.  
OPDP requests that Duchesnay immediately cease misbranding DICLEGIS and/or cease introducing the misbranded drug into interstate commerce. Please submit a written response to this letter on or before August 21, 2015, stating whether you intend to comply with this request, listing all promotional materials (with the 2253 submission date) for DICLEGIS that contain presentations such as those described above, and explaining your plan for discontinuing use of such materials, or, in the alternative, for ceasing distribution of DICLEGIS. Because the violations described above are serious and repeated, we request, further, that your submission include a comprehensive plan of action to disseminate truthful, non-misleading, and complete corrective messages about the issues discussed in this letter to the audience(s) that received the violative promotional materials. In order to clearly identify the violative promotional piece(s) and/or activity and focus on the corrective message(s), OPDP recommends that corrective piece(s) include a description of the violative promotional piece(s) and/or activity, include a summary of the violative message(s), provide information to correct each of the violative message(s), and be free of promotional claims and presentations. To the extent possible, corrective messaging should be distributed using the same media, and generally for the same duration of time and with the same frequency that the violative promotional material was disseminated.
This is serious stuff. By treating the Instagram post as a paid ad, the FDA is bringing the full weight of its authority not on citizen Kim Kardashian, but on the company that they assume paid her to shill for them. As I'm sure you know, pharmaceutical advertising is heavily regulated. One of the most onerous parts of that regulation, for advertisers, is the endless list of risks, contraindications, and possible side effects. The FDA points out specifically that the drug has not been studied in women with hyperemesis gravidarum. Omissions like this can can prove tragic.

Since this time, the Instagram post has been removed. Furthermore, the manufacturer admitted to media that it was a paid endorsement (duh!) but that Ms. Kardashian really does take the drug and it was prescribed by her doctor. The Independent quotes Thomas Abrams, the director of the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion at the FDA, saying that the manufacturer is complying with the warning.

An FDA Q&A page states that the emergence of social media has "complicated the job" of promotional regulation, stating "we generally do not have authority over statements made by independent organizations or persons—what we call third parties—unless they are acting on behalf of a company." They also mention that this isn't the first time they have intervened.

This should be an important wake-up call for certain advertisers using celebrities as "native advertising" channels. As the line between advertising and earned media blurs, the regulators have learned to simply follow the money.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bic South Africa fails hard for women's day

Via Twitter
August 9 was National Women's Day in South Africa, and Bic SA's social media team tried to share an empowering captioned image. The only problem was, it wasn't really empowering at all.

Reaction was swift and sharp, including this hack:

The problem is obvious. "Think like a man" is hardly celebrating women's equality.

I'll hand it to Bic, however. They did take it down and issue a proper apology.

From Facebook:

Hi everyone. Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody - that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.
It still shouldn't have happened in the first place, but at least it opens a helpful conversation. Especially for an international brand with a bad history of gender stereotyping.