2008 Creativity Award Winner: Burger King: Whopper Freakout
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The premise of the "Whopper Freakout" campaign is as enchanting as it is perverse: Burger King employees claim corporate overlords have stricken the belly buster from the menu one day so Academy Award-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin (Murderball) can document fast food junkies twitching and spewing when they find they can't have it their way. Day two of the experiment saw competitors' sandwiches replace the Whopper and again, hungry fans got riled up and professed their love, before the King himself appeared to make things right. The results of the big BK joke contributed to an eight-minute webfilm full of brand evangelism, focus group-y responses ("Level of 1-10, how pissed would you say you were...?"), bewilderment and good old fashioned hunger-induced American crankiness. Customers storm back to the counter demanding their beloved Whoppers when they realize they've been served Big Macs or Wendy's burgers, only to have the counter attendants remind them that BK doesn't serve "fried" burgers. Other more wistful BK-goers give folksy Whopper-tinged anecdotes about family bonding and passage into manhood.
The candid camera approach Crispin, Porter + Bogusky honed with its lauded Truth work appears to have succeeded. IAG Research found recall of the campaign to be the highest it's seen in its six-year history. Crispin reports over one million visits to the microsite with an average logged time of 8:33 and over four million finished video views, meaning most visitors watched several times. Multiple spoofs emerged, including "Ghetto Freakout," an R-rated take on the campaign which clocked over 3 million views on YouTube. More importantly, America continued to reach for the Whopper—Burger King's same-store sales numbers were up, improving 4.5 percent on 2006 numbers.