Whopper Freakout The case study assignment in this unit will challenge you to apply what you learned in this unit. Evaluate Burger King’s Whopper Freakout campaign and the influence of customer relationships and customer equity. You will first read “Case Example: Whopper Freakout” on pp. 90–92 in your textbook. Case Example: Whopper Freakout Burger King was founded in 1953 and expanded its menu in 1957 to include what would become its signature burger, the Whopper (the brand’s slogan is “Home of the Whopper”). Despite having many loyalists the brand has always played second fiddle to McDonald’s and started to lose focus during the 1980s, resulting in declining equity over the next two decades as new entrants entered the market, and existing competitors such as KFC expanded into burgers. In 2003, the firm appointed disruptive advertising agency Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (CPB) to reinvigorate the brand and attract new consumers. CPB returned the brand to its roots in many ways, redesigning the brand’s mascot (the rather creepy “King”) and investing heavily in social media. The 2008 “Whopper Freakout” campaign won many creative awards and generated a spike in sales. What was special about “Whopper Freakout”? Drawing on theories of brand relationships and emotional attachment (or resonance—see the Brand Equity Pyramid) Whopper Freakout was centered on a very simple idea—what would happen if Burger King stopped making the Whopper burger? Since brand attachment is the pinnacle of brand equity and suggests one cannot do without the brand, the idea was to highlight core brand associations, authentic stories, and unguarded emotional reactions to reignite interest among lapsed and new consumers. The advertisement was run online and presented in a documentary style, which help render it authentic. In essence, one Burger King outlet became a “Whopper-free zone” filled with hidden television cameras so as to film the results. The second part of the campaign featured giving consumers a competitor’s burger including a McDonald’s Big Mac and Wendy’s burger by stealth, and then suggesting that the consumers were trying to pull a scam to get one of Burger King’s Whoppers. The campaign is available on YouTube and well worth watching in order to reinforce the key points in this chapter. The campaign followed up with a Facebook-based program called “Whopper sacrifice” in which consumers gained a free Whopper coupon for every ten friends they defriended on Facebook. Unsurprisingly, the social media site cancelled the Whopper Sacrifice account, but not before 200,000 friends were delisted by Whopper fans. A Direct TV campaign also ran called “Whopper Lust,” requiring consumers to allow the Whopper image to remain on screen for five minutes in order to get a voucher (50,000 coupons were eventually sent out). The first part of “Whopper Freakout” focuses on a series of vox pops (short interviews with real consumers outside of the store) on why they love Burger King and what it means to them. It becomes clear that loyalty is a function of one product, The Whopper, and that underpinning this is a range of personal stories often centering around driving across state lines to buy Whoppers, shifting from the junior Whopper to the real thing as part of a rite of passage (“becoming a big boy”) and enjoying the burger as part of a weekly routine. Clearly, these consumers are loyal to Burger King, but only through one product. The next scene involves these same consumers placing their orders at the counter, and being told that the Whopper has been discontinued. The results are instant and powerful, showing consumers bewildered, confused, and in some cases angry and even prone to violence (an adult-rated gangsta version of the film is also available). Consumers literally cannot believe that the Whopper is gone, a situation not helped by the brave frontline staff stating that the burger was killed by head office for being “too popular.” Consumers recount more personal stories about their relationship with the brand, wistfully reminiscing on what they have lost. The scene ends with vox pops with the same consumers wondering what the brand stands for—as one male consumer states, “What will they call it now? Burger Queen?” The next scene aims to remind the audience of the brand’s special attributes or associations, and in effect sees CPB taking viewers on a ride down the brand equity pyramid. As loyal consumers have their order called out, they collect their bag, sit down, open it up, and realize that they have been given the wrong burger. Confronting the service staff, they hand over a competitor burger. One older customer was given a McDonald’s Big Mac, and stated forcefully “I hate McDonald’s”; another told the staff member to throw away the Wendy’s burger he was given; while yet another irate customer shouted, “I hate Wendy’s!” Then staff, on script, implied that the customers were trying to pull a scam, identifying how McDonald’s and Wendy’s fried their burgers while Burger King flame-grilled theirs. At the end, they bravely asked customers if they were unsatisfied with their choice, which tipped many customers over the edge in sheer frustration. The final scene ends the customers’ torment, with staff asking them if they want to speak to the manager. Outraged customers quickly affirm this choice, and the famous King emerges from behind a screen with the Whopper they so love. Customers are told it’s been a prank, with the film ending with a line about the day the Whopper went away, to remind consumers why they continue to support the brand and not take it for granted. CPB won several creative awards for this and the follow-up campaigns, but Burger King still struggles as a brand. The agency was eventually replaced and a new campaign focused on the Whopper’s ingredients launched. (If you are curious, feel free to search YouTube for the video created for the Freakout campaign. It is fascinating.) You will then respond to the following case questions. How did the consumers in the case and video define their relationship with Burger King? Describe how quantitative and qualitative research methods might have been used to determine tangible and intangible attributes of Burger King’s brand equity. Based on this case and video, would you describe Burger King’s customer equity as strong? Explain why, or why not. Also, how would you apply the various lenses through which brand equity is viewed to the Burger King case? How would you rate its potential to appeal to ex-loyalists or new customers? Why did the campaign fail to turn around the brand’s fortunes? How would you approach the Burger King turnaround? If Burger King could grow its brand equity, what positive outcomes could occur for them? Assignment Instructions Your case study response should be at least two pages in length. Academic work should always be supported with credible sources. Please be sure your submission includes at least three credible sources, including your textbook. Please use APA formatting and style guidelines (i.e., indentations, spacing, font, citations, and references). Please use section headings and subheadings that align with the assignment questions. This will serve as an outline to ensure you complete all requirements. Finally, please review the grading rubric so you are aware of all the grading criteria.