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BK's Subservient Chicken Explodes

Published on .

You make the chicken move.
At least one marketer isn't shying away from suggestive advertising in the wake of Nipplegate. Burger King and agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky take "Have It Your Way" to a whole new level in a breaking campaign for the new TenderCrisp chicken sandwich. The effort features a character called the Subservient Chicken, a guy in a chicken suit who aims to please, a setup for the line "Chicken: Just the way you like it." In two spots -- the campaign was directed by MJZ's Rocky Morton -- we see a man lecherously thumbing through a stack of Polaroids and instructing the submissive mascot on what to wear and what music to play. In a third commercial, two women trick the chicken into bending over so they can get a better view of the character's hindquarters. And that's just the broadcast work.

The effort also features a website -- www.subservientchicken.com -- that mimics a live webcam in which the chicken seems to obey users' commands. The site, executed by The Barbarian Group in Boston, has been a pretty hot meme since launching last week, at least judging from the effort people have put in to reverse-engineering it. This site, for example, lists all 334 of the chicken's actions and the words that trigger them -- or did trigger them. Burger King has stayed one step ahead of the bloggers and rerouted all the old links to a shot of the chicken wagging his finger into the camera.

"It's blown up multiple times beyond what I expected," says CP+B executive creative director Alex Bogusky. "We've had things take off before, but this was an explosion." The agency released a beta of the site last Wednesday, and by Thursday, it had drawn a million hits. A week later, it has more than 15 million, in part -- Bogusky speculates -- because people were fascinated by how the live webcam effect was achieved. "I think the fact that people were dissecting it helped it explode," he says.

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