“People are going chicken crazy,” the voice of Paul Giamatti says in the tense yet humor-filled scene. The campaign, from David Miami, comes weeks after Burger King announced the sandwich would be called Ch’King and would have a June 3 national debut.
Director Kris Belman of Division7, who was behind some of the brand's other notable moves, including the "Whopper Neutrality" ad and spots for Cannes Lions Grand Prix-winning "Google Home of the Whoppper" campaign, was behind the camera for this new ad.
The unusual name Ch’King was chosen to help the sandwich “stand out in that sea of sameness,” says Doty, who joined Burger King in 2020 after serving as CMO of Chili’s.
Burger King’s Ch’King launch comes after other chicken sandwiches have shaken up the category, most notably the one launched by Popeyes, its Restaurant Brands International sibling, in 2019.
Rather than comparing its chicken sandwich to rivals, Burger King is pitting the new sandwich against the Whopper.
Burger King’s King mascot “loves all of his children equally,” says Doty, “but to outdo the Whopper might be a nightmare for him.”
In the commercial, a poster on the wall in the restaurant repeatedly reads “The Ch’King is here to stay. King don’t run away. Chicken all day.” The stuff of nightmares reminiscent of “The Shining,” perhaps?
“Has the Whopper finally met its match?” Giamatti asks.
“We just really felt like Paul Giamatti’s voice has that sort of chilling tone that really brought to life the way this sort of surrealist imagery might sound in the King’s mind,” says Doty, noting the dramatic tension in his words, delivered with “just the right amount of flair.”
It is the first time Giamatti has worked with the brand. If McDonald’s can enlist the soothing tones of “Succession” star Brian Cox to help promote items such as its new chicken sandwich, Burger King can certainly hire Giamatti to voice its new campaign.
“Nightmare,” which also has shorter versions, is set to be followed by three additional TV commercials and a radio spot. Future ads will focus on the food itself, including the hand-breading of the sandwich, which Doty sees as a differentiator among chicken sandwiches offered by fast-food burger chains.