For years Burger King has told guests they can have it their way—the new catch is it must be the real way. The fast food chain is launching a celebrity-filled “Keep It Real Meals” campaign as part of its commitment to permanently ban more than 120 non-essential artificial ingredients from its food menu.
The new effort pushes the concept of no fake ingredients. To spread the word the chain is offering limited-edition “Keep It Real Meals” backed by rap artist Nelly, social media personality Lil Huddy and Brazilian singer and actress Anitta. Each of the celebrities will hand-select food from the Burger King Real menu to create a custom meal with packaging bearing their given names—not their stage names—to underscore the "real" concept. The meals will be available nationwide.
The pledge continues an effort that BK began in 2015 to use cleaner ingredients, with marketing including the “Moldy Whopper” campaign from 2020 that dramatized the chain’s decision to remove artificial preservatives.
The campaign is reminiscent of McDonald’s highly successful “Famous Orders” campaign that spotlights the favorite meals of musicians including Travis Scott, J Balvin, BTS and most recently, Saweetie.
Burger King’s campaign includes three ads from the agency David that feature the celebrities participating in a face-off between their celebrity personas and their real selves. The Nelly ad shows him squaring off against Cornell Haynes Jr. (his real name). The “Cornell Haynes Jr Meal'' includes a Whopper, small fries and a small Sprite.
Lil Huddy’s meal is called the “The Chase Hudson Meal” and includes a hand-breaded spicy chicken sandwich with cheese, 4-piece mozzarella sticks and a 16-ounce chocolate shake. Anitta’s meal is the “Larissa Machado Meal” and includes the meatless Impossible Whopper with lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and mustard, small fries and a small Sprite. (The meals are not completely free of artificial ingredients, of course: a Sprite contains sodium citrate and sodium benzoate, for example).
Anitta is slated to appear at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, where her performance will mirror the campaign's creative concept of her real-self versus her celebrity persona, according to Burger King.
Ellie Doty, chief marketing officer of Burger King North America, says no items were removed from the menu. But there were challenges when the common ingredient in a food item included preservatives, such as pickles. Instead, the chain substituted fresh dill pickles.
“It is a journey and it keeps evolving so we’re continuing to get better every day and ensure we’re making it easy for our guests to make great choices thinking of the Burger King they love,” says Doty.