During the last couple of years Crispin Porter + Bogusky has delivered several interesting campaigns for Burger King. Several of them have gone viral, including Subservient Chicken, Whopper Freakout, Sith Sense and Whopper Virgin (read more about BK advertising).
A very interesting, and insightful, recent campaign is the Whopper Sacrifice. A lot of Facebook users have a lot of friends, many of which are not very close. It is true for me too. Taking advantage of this fact, the facebook application CP+B developed for the campaign encourages users to sacrifice 10 of their “friends” to get a free Whopper! Now, for someone already contemplating cleaning up their list of friends, this is a pretty easy choice. But here’s the rub – the “friends” who are sacrificed are notified and offered the same deal! That is the supposedly viral component in it. Even though they are not close, a lot of people probably have a hard time actually doing this.
But, this is no doubt a very interesting twist on it, and some people will for sure think it is really fun. It is kind of taboo – letting someone know they have been ditched for a burger! Could it be that the “rejection” incentivizes people to get “revenge” on friends on their own list?
An interesting development is that:
… there’s already a group of people on Facebook who are willing to be your “friend” just to be sacrificed.
From Shotgun Marketing Blog.
Usually, viral campaigns are mostly spread to a couple of closer friends and maybe some looser connections, and then on to their respective friend networks. One very interesting aspect of this campaign is that it is doing exactly the opposite. It spreads through our weakest connections and takes brilliant advantage of of the strength of weak ties.
It will be very interesting to watch this campaign during the coming weeks. How viral it becomes will be interesting to see. So far, it looks pretty good with some 51 284 friends have been sacrificed as I write this, according to the microsite.
Update 12 of January 2009:
187 331 people have now been de-friended, according to the site, which means some 18 733 Whoppers.
CLickZ noted two pretty obvious concerns about the campaign:
“First, when you off someone on your friend list, that person is told about it, as is your whole group of frineds. (“Jchn sacrificed John Whitmore for a free Whopper”). That’s not true if you simply remove them the normal way. I know from many conversations that a lot of Facebook users live in fear that any fake friends removed from their friends list will somehow be told of the action. When I tell people that’s not actually the case, they’re always visibly relieved. If you tell the victim they’ve been deleted, as the BK app does, then you’re creating a disincentive for decent-hearted people to delete them….
… Second, and this is the flip side of the “notice” coin, it strikes me there’s potential for bullying here. The removal of any friend by Whopper Sacrifice will be broadcast to the news feed of the user doing the removing, and hence be read by any of his or her friends. Many of these will also be familiar with the victim. In other words, in the hands of mean-spirited social networkers (read: high schoolers) it could be a mechanism for cruetly and ostracization.”
The “taboo” in publicly de-friending people is part of what makes this campaign so interesting – good or bad!