Burger King Wins CPG Gold with Mold

Burger King did something crazy last week – crazy like a fox. By showing its burger become super gross over time, it created buzz that has to be leaving competitors clamoring for a taste of BK’s online savvy. How did the king of burgers come up with an idea the produced CPG gold with mold? We’re guessing social listening had a good bit to do with it! Let’s see how that may have looked . . .

The Burger That Gets Old

First, the commercial itself. Set to the tune of “What a Difference a Day Makes,” the video tracks the progressively moldy burger as it ages 34 days to create a sickening sight:

Burger King mold gold video

And its 34-day old state is very, very different from that of its key competitor – McDonalds. Its burger still looks incredibly normal, almost edible . . . after 20 years (according to this man in Utah who has held on to this strange item for two decades):

McDonalds 20 year old burger that is not moldy

The kicker for the ad, of course – and kick in the face for McDonalds – is this line that flashes at the end of it:

Burger Kings kicker about no artificial preservatives

And that shows how closely Burger King is following consumer trends and following online sentiment to remain relevant. It involves understanding both the Quick Serve conversation and the overarching Food Trends conversation. Let’s take a look at each and the burger chain’s social listening savvy will become clear . . .

Food Trends Conversation

Exploring the overarching “food” conversation online, we see lots to sift through. But two relevant items that pop out here are #foodwaste and #healthy:

food trends conversation captured with social listening

Consumers want delicious, healthy options. And they’ll photograph the crap out of tasty dishes to share their #foodporn finds with others. And having #tasty options matters a lot too, as does having a #vegan option, which most quick serve restaurants are offering in some fashion these days.

But a focus on food waste is important when combined with health, particularly as we get deeper into the quick serve (aka fast food) conversation . . .

Quick Serve Conversation

And then exploring conversation in the fast food subtopic, we see lots of conversation around empty calories, non-recyclable materials (pointing back to the larger health and waste conversations, respectively) among other reasons why people avoid eating fast food:

quick serve conversation captured with social listening

So, how can a quick serve restaurant stand out in a food market obsessed with healthy, earth and body-friendly options? By demonstrating how they’re the best in a crowd of fast options by playing on those precise consumer fears . . . which they did with this commercial.

Burger King Combined Intel for Mold Gold

How did this pan out for them? Well, the conversation about this tactic is likely something they’re pleased with. The good vibes have extended beyond the burger itself to pretty much everything about the enterprise. It has the “best fry” and “best breakfast sandwich” and even the “beset pancakes” and coupons! And then there’s talk about which is the “best Burger King character,” harkening back to its Kids Club days.

Burger King buzz about mold gold commercial

Combining insight from the overarching Food Trends conversation with that from the Quick Serve convo, Burger King was able to create a powerful mold gold visual that will be remembered the next time consumers have a choice between the two establishments.

And short of those with strong loyalty to either, the idea of an intact preservative-laden burger clogging up one’s intestines might not be as appetizing as a patty that digests as expected. Possibly.

And then, McDonalds stock slumped recently. This could be due to many factors, of course, but interestingly timed, considering. Burger King’s video was released on 2/19:

McDonalds stock dip coinciding with Burger Kings mold gold commercial

Though this doesn’t mean it’s game, set, match for Burger King, even with this winning promo. McDonald’s is still the big dog on the block, but it may be in trouble with the health-consciousness barreling its way and Burger King consistently showcasing the differences between the two:

comparing Burger King and McDonalds from a social sentiment standpoint

McDonalds Could Quickly Turn the Tables

McDonalds has clever promos of its own, including one where they show what famous people order at its establishment. And then another superbly viral version by a gamer/fan of the franchise:

gamer making viral video of other influencers eating McDonalds


This is the next stop for all quick serve restaurants, no doubt. And one that McDonalds could quickly use to its advantage at any point in time.

As online becomes increasingly competitive and consumers become ever more discerning, setting the bar for those clever ideas to a ridiculously high level, creating personalized, niche promos with the help of relevant influencers will be important. And we’re not talking about celebrities or internet famous because they’re famous folks, but those micro-influencer folks who hold true sway over small but powerful communities.

We’ll connect back with you on that another day. But for now, go buy yourself a chocolate shake, and then contact us for a demo. We’ll help your brand understand relevant category and subcategory conversations, along with who you should be saddling up to from an influencer standpoint. Every category has preservatives of some variety to worry over, some consumer dislike to make right. And mold gold to discover. We’ll help you get ahead of it!

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