Whopper Detour

McDonald’s Gives Burger King A Whopper

Competition is good for business, right? Well, the ongoing burger feud has been taken to the next level thanks to new technology. Here’s the deal, you download the Burger King app onto your smartphone. Then you go to your nearest McDonald’s and order a Whopper for a penny.

Confused yet?

Let me try to explain this one a bit further. First off, McDonald’s does not, has never and very likely will never ever serve a Whopper anytime in the future. But if you set foot inside a McDonald’s anywhere in the United States you could get a Whopper – the signature Burger King burger – for a penny.

Oh, I should mention that you can access that offer, while standing in line waiting to be served at a McDonald’s, off the Burger King app.

How is that even possible?

I point to new technology once again. The actual idea behind the burger switch comes from the ad agency FCB New York. They approached BK with the idea of the ‘Whopper Detour’ a year before it actually became available. That’s because there was a lot of prep required.

For example, about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants dot the American landscape versus 7,200 Burger Kings. Data from Technomic stated that roughly 75%  of the population of the US lives within 3 miles of a McDonald’s in 2017.

So, what do you do with that?

Easy. You spend several months geofencing each and every McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. Geofencing is sort of when an imaginary GPS wall is built around a specific location that sends a signal somewhere once someone crosses into or out of the geo-fence around that site.

So every one of the 14,000 or so McDonald’s restaurants were geofenced. The one cent Whopper offer was set up so that you could only order it through the BK mobile app. However, you had to cross into a geofenced McDonald’s location in order to even see the offer. Once you made your Burger King order on the app while standing in a McDonald’s, you would be provided with directions to the nearest Burger King where you could collect your one cent Whopper. Just don’t forget to cancel the McWhatever you ordered while standing there.

Talk about turning technology into a weapon of (burger) war.

So, what did the promotion prove? Well, it most certainly took a bite out of sales. Leaving behind McDonald’s patrons looking for a great deal on a burger regardless of where it was coming from. It also proved that you can have a top rated mobile app but it means nothing if your competitor uses theirs in a more innovative manner.

The ‘Whopper Detour’ was also cross-promoted heavily with print and television advertising that was so creative – the Burger King’s arm switching the “Millions Served” McDonald’s Golden Arches sign to read “Millions Swerved” as an example – that it became an award-winning campaign.

McDonald’s probably stopped lovin’ it early into the Whopper Detour. Only time will tell if they will counter with a tasty shot of their own. Regardless, it is a great time to be a burger lover in the US.