Burger King Does the Unthinkable, Acknowledges McDonald’s Exists

Alena Caras, VP Brand Strategy and Kayleigh Taylor, Senior Content Strategist


“brb, going to McDonald’s,” Burger King tweeted yesterday.

Which had us like, “k, cya lat— wait WHAT?”

Like many other followers, our gut reaction was that BK must have been hacked. But shortly after the tweet, the company told us they had indeed sent the message, which was to serve as the kickoff for their latest campaign.

The full statement reads: Introducing the #WhopperDetour. Order a ‘Whopper’ for a penny only “at” McDonald’s with the BK app. Yes, you read that right. Drive near a McDonald’s and use the BK app. No need to go to their drive-thru. Get yours before December 12th.

Notorious for trolling their biggest competition, the campaign is designed to encourage customers to show up at McDonald’s to order a whopper, only to be directed over to Burger King.

Here’s what we like about it:

  • It’s genius and grabbed our attention.
  • It’s kind of funny (if you don’t work at McDonald’s – and if you do, we agree the stunt is totally outrageous and not at all funny).
  • It drove a tremendous spike in downloads for BK’s app (reportedly 1 million new downloads, crowning it the king of the app store).
  • It does what many companies consider unthinkable – acknowledges competitors exist.

That last point is our favorite. Many companies spend a lot of energy pretending their competitors don’t exist, particularly on social media. We get it – they don’t want to fuel their competitor’s brand equity by acknowledging and sharing their competitors’ thought leadership, but we also see this avoidance as a missed opportunity.

If a competitor produces an exceptional piece of content and it is getting a lot of attention, why not chime in? Getting involved in the conversation could result in more engagement with your brand and endear you to consumers who are impressed by your humility and collaborative spirit.

What should you do if a competitor mentions you? Our best advice is to be a good sport about it. Give thanks when there’s praise, or react with humor if it’s a little bit of a dig.

In this case, we think this is a great opportunity for McDonald’s to show it has a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for their response.