THE 'AD AGE' TALE OF THE APE

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Burger King's "Subservient Chicken" set a viral-marketing record some doubted would ever be broken, as 14 million unique visitors logged in during the first year to give orders to an overgrown chicken in lingerie. But CareerBuilder's Monk-e-mail gimmick, which lets users e-mail talking-chimp greetings, insults and worse to friends and enemies is challenging the chicken's record, with 9.1 million unique users in its first eight months.

Even if the office chimps fall just shy of the mark-and at their current pace, it appears they will-their handlers intend to hurl some rhetorical feces anyhow. "Yeah, they're selling more chicken sandwiches, but zero to one is 100% growth," said Peter Krivkovich, president of CareerBuilder's agency, Cramer-Krasselt, which built the Monk-e-mail site. "CareerBuilder passed Monster as No. 1. When Burger King passes McDonald's, we can talk."

Agency

Subservient Chicken: Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Miami

Office Chimps: Cramer- Krasselt, Chicago

Launch date

Subservient Chicken: March 2004

Office Chimps: January 2006

Brand link

Subservient Chicken: "Subservient" because BK is offering "chicken your way."

Office Chimps: Job seekers who work with "a bunch of monkeys" should look for new jobs at CareerBuilder.

Animal wardrobe

Subservient Chicken: Garters

Office Chimps: It's up to you, but we usually opt for the blue leisure suit, yellow wide-tab collar, oversized Elton John shades and a mortarboard.

Animal backdrop

Subservient Chicken: Evidently a San Fernando Valley porn set

Office Chimps: Again, there are plenty of options, but the cubicle is their natural habitat.

First-year unique visitors

Subservient Chicken: 14 million

Office Chimps: 9.1 million so far

First-year news stories

Subservient Chicken: 239

Office Chimps: 50 so far

Current blog mentions:

Subservient Chicken: 3,102

Office Chimps: 1,194

Business results:

Subservient Chicken: Privately held BK won't disclose specific figures but has said chicken-sandwich sales rose "significantly." The chain has been gaining ground on larger rival McDonald's.

Office Chimps: CareerBuilder surpassed rival Monster to become the largest U.S. job site.

Off-site promotion

Subservient Chicken: BK's TV ads directed people to the website.

Office Chimps: None, but users e-mail talking chimps to friends who are invited to make their own.

What they won't do or say

Subservient Chicken: Most sexually oriented requests draw a disapproving-but disturbingly knowing-wag of the chicken finger.

Office Chimps: Nothing we could think of, and we were very creative.

One expert's verdict

Subservient Chicken: "It is remarkably entertaining, but it's a bit of a stretch for the brand and requires a lot of imagination to use," said Northwestern University Marketing Professor Tim Calkins.

Office Chimps: "It could probably have a stronger link to the brand, but it's closely linked to their media campaign," Mr. Calkins said. "Plus, if someone walks by, it's a lot easier to explain what you're doing than if they see you with the Subservient Chicken."
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