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Crispin Porter + Bogusky's latest online adventure for Burger King forces viewers to contemplate the unthinkable: a world without Whoppers. In a web film and series of spots kicking to the site, whopperfreakout.com, CP+B and Smuggler director Henry-Alex Rubin captured the reactions of real Burger King customers who were denied their beloved burger. While the campaign provides entertaining answers to one question —"What if there were no Whoppers?" —it raises others. Were all those people really real? How did the agency and director capture those reactions? Did anyone just say "Oh, OK, I'll have the chicken then"? Here, Rubin gives us the behind the counter perspective on the shoot.
Where did this all take place and how long did you keep it up?
HAR: It was two stores in Las Vegas. We had to use two stores because basically the word would get out so we had to move. What happened was, after people left the store (after being told there were no Whoppers) you'd have to go and grab them and get releases. Once a few people were onto you, you had to move.
We were at the first BK for two days and the second one two more days–and a day in between to figure out how to make everything better.
What were the biggest challenges of getting the reactions?
HAR: It was by far the most logistically complex shoot I've ever been on.
It wasn't just reality TV, it was tricking real customers with fake BK employees who we had to train to use the machines and how to work the systems. There's a whole complex assembly line of people back there and (actors) had to integrate into a real working bk staff making chicken sandwiches and fries. There was one woman (a BK employee) who was so deadpan we ended up hiring her as part of our fake bk staff. She delivered the line so well. All the other real staff would tend to giggle and I'd demote them to the back.
Meanwhile we were trying to bring the really interesting customers into play. You'd get some great characters—there'd be a guy who would come in and it would look like he's been up all night and he's wearing a velvet fedora and then he steps up and he just wants a chicken filet. Then there were certain people you wanted to avoid who looked too crazy and you knew they wouldn't take the joke too well. The manager knew a lot of the customers and knew who were locals and knew who had good sense of humor and who didn't–I was getting live commentary from the manager. I was also dressed up as manager in training. I would stand around the front a lot to pick out the people who would maybe be OK on camera.