Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Fast Food Chain’s Creative Marketing

creative marketing, Naperville business lawyerIf you own or operate a business in a competitive industry, you need a way to show prospective customers that you are different from your competitors. Thus, creative marketing can play a major part in generating business. As with most elements of running a business, attempts at creative marketing do not always go as planned, and consumers may react negatively.

As a business law attorney, I understand that advertising and marketing typically drive commercial growth. When a marketing campaign backfires, however, it is important to be able to recover and try again.

A Controversial Marketing Plan

Earlier this year, Burger King released a television commercial that attempted to utilize the technology that currently exists in the home of many consumers. In the ad, an actor dressed as a Burger King employee leaned into the camera and said, “Ok, Google. What is a Whopper burger?” To some people, the phrasing may have sounded like nonsense, but those familiar with their Android-powered cell phones or tablets or a Google Home device probably realized what the ad was trying to do.

Similar to the popular “Siri” function on Apple’s iPhones, the phrase “Ok, Google” is used to “wake up” Android devices so the user can request information or give the device voice instructions. “Ok, Google. Call Mom,” for example, would result in a device initiating a phone call and dialing the number saved under Mom. Burger King’s marketing team was attempting to trigger Google Home devices and nearby cell phones to access the internet and find answers regarding the Whopper burger—and to read aloud the beginning of the Wikipedia entry for the chain’s signature sandwich.

Consumers were not pleased when their personal devices began responding to the television ad. Neither was Google, as the spot was produced without the internet giant’s knowledge or consent. Within hours, Google Home and Android devices began to ignore the Whopper question—no doubt due to changes made by Google. Users also went online to edit the Whopper’s entry on Wikipedia, indicating that the burger causes cancer and contains cyanide and effectively changing the answer to the commercial’s question.

Trying Again

While the buzz about the commercial died down relatively quickly, Burger King is back in the news with another marketing ploy. Moviegoers in Germany who went to see the new big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It were presented with a surprise message as the film’s credits began to roll. The words “The moral is: Never trust a clown,” appeared, followed by the Burger King logo. Audiences immediately recognized the overt reference to both Pennywise—the killer clown character in It—and McDonald’s clown mascot Ronald McDonald.

Protecting Your Business

When you engage in creative marketing, you must be careful to avoid violating your competitors’ copyright and trademark protections. Improper use of another company’s logos, wordmarks, or slogans could create serious problems for your business. To ensure that your creative marketing campaign is legal, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation today.



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