Burger King's Whopper of a Virginal Search Slip-up

Looking for its Latest Viral on Google? Good Luck

By Published on .

Whopper Virgins
Whopper Virgins

Burger King's been around the block with cross-channel campaigns centered around online marketing. Heck, Subservient Chicken practically became synonymous with viral marketing, while Whopper Freakout was so good it made me visit the Burger King across the street from my apartment for the first time since I moved there. Whopper Virgins, its latest endeavor, may be the best yet... if you can find it.

The Whopper Virgins experience begins with a TV commercial with a brief teaser that directs you to WhopperVirgins.com. The spot was compelling enough that I noticed the spot while watching the time-shifted "My Own Worst Enemy" through my DVR; it's running heavily during weekend football games. Go to the site and you're treated to a video of Burger King running a Whopper vs. Big Mac taste test with people in Romania, Thailand and Greenland who have never eaten a hamburger before. It's poignant and amusing, if you can tolerate the implicit ethnocentrism.

What if you don't remember the exact Web address and Google it? You still better remember the domain name. While WhopperVirgins.com ranks first in Google for "whopper virgins," it's invisible when you omit the plural.

There are three areas of neglect here:

  • The domain: WhopperVirgin.com is a parked domain filled with ads for Burger King store listings, Virgin Mobile gifts, Virgin Atlantic flights, Virgin Islands vacations and Virgin Mary checks.
  • Search engine optimization: The microsite doesn't appear on the first three pages of Google results for "whopper virgin" searches.
  • Paid search: While reviewing Google's listings over several days, there hasn't been a search ad running on "whopper virgin" queries.

This is a major missed opportunity. Google Trends shows that recently, the volume of searches for the singular and plural versions have been nearly equal. "Whopper virgin" searchers must either go to an intermediary site or refine their search. Why can't consumers 'have it their way' and get to Burger King's site even if they're off by a letter? This multimillion-dollar branding campaign could have covered all its bases with a $10,000 search marketing investment. As it stands now, Burger King risks frustrating consumers instead of serving up one whopper of a video.

(In case you can't find it, here it is.)

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David Berkowitz is director of emerging media for 360i. He has written dozens of articles covering media, marketing and technology for several trade publications over the past decade. Mr. Berkowitz has spoken at Digital Hollywood, Ad:Tech, SMX, OMMA and dozens of industry events, and he blogs extensively, contributing to MarketingVox, nowEurope, AdTechBlog and others. He is frequently quoted online and in print on technology, advertising and media trends.

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