Advertising · BURGER KING

Burger King Launches Moldy Whopper Campaign

TA-FC ClipBoard: “The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly”? “Mold can be a beautiful thing”? That’s a real stretch, calling mold on beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a bun beautiful. The spoiled mayo also beautiful?

Associating harmful, nasty, disgusting photos of a mold-laden sandwich with the Whopper is for sure a novel approach to selling any type of food. It just goes against what people have known forever – optics count.

Sure nobody believes the picture perfect photos that ads show of their products, that resemble the actual product only in type of ingredients, not the true visual appearance when you actually buy one. But when associating it with mold and other nasty stuff, when in fact, nobody is served such a sandwich, makes one question the sanity of such an approach.

One thing advertisers avoid is associating a product with something repulsive or unhealthy or grotesque for obvious reasons. Nobody in their right mind would want to eat such a product. The optics alone would drive consumers away.

Now that the MOLDY WHOPPER is out there, people who buy whoppers will automatically associate what they are about to eat with the disgusting looking, nasty stuff that has caught the world’s eye unawares. Still, the brain does what the brain does – connects bad looking stuff, mold no less, lots of different species of mold it looks like, but doesn’t automatically connect all the reasons for that Old Moldy thing, except to avoid it.

The brain isn’t registering free of additives, free of preservatives, free of artificial ingredients, and free of a bunch of other undesirable added ingredients when it views that MOLDY MESS. The brain doesn’t imprint an entire paragraph of free-of-this and free-of-that. The brain imprints an image of a moldy mess. The brain runs away from it. It doesn’t marry it to live happily ever after in the stomach that the brain controls.

Is it appetizing? No. No. Get away. Don’t come near me. You are making me sick by looking at you. Halt I say. HALT. Do not enter my stomach nor my field of vision.

Fernando Machado took a huge risk that obviously made sense to him. Yet, by all reasonable accounts he overthought the process and overshot the goal of communicating to the public that Burger King’s burgers are made of only cows – and nothing else that otherwise may preserve the ingredients, becoming I assume mold-resistant.

Maybe Fernando Machado doesn’t realize the extent that people will go to avoid mold, especially toxic, injurious molds, any kind of mold. People in general like anything that is mold-resistant.

Maybe this concept of non-mold resistant prepared food will be popular with the millennials whom he targets; maybe millennials even like mold, but it’s a difficult concept to swallow, that by seeing a moldy sandwich someone would want to buy a non-moldy sandwich made in the same establishment. Even less convincing is that it would increase rather than decrease sales. Nothing fits here. There’s no logic. Maybe the point was to confuse the buyer, but why?

It’s an advertising gamble that may work or not. Frankly, it should fall flat on it’s moldy bun. If it doesn’t, then I’d have to say our brains have actually changed in the way our brains process information.

If it works to increase sales, we can all expect an onslaught of grotesque image ads designed to compare the bad with the good. Eventually, somehow, our brains will adapt to seeing them both as worthy – with the more prominent, albeit grotesque, of the images winning out and leaving it’s footprint smack in the desire bins of our minds.

Soon enough our brains will begin to crave the more dominant grotesque image over the actual recessive image which will reap benefits to the seller of all food products, who will eventually sell you what is grotesque by popular demand.

What’s a little mold on your sandwich, right? Better than all that other junk they used to add.

Of course this all could have been avoided, had Fernando Machado not overthought the process and overshot the goal of communicating a better sandwich by showing you what a better sandwich looks like – a MOLDY MESS that is both beautiful and desirable.


Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

USA TODAYFebruary 19, 2020

Burger King is serving up a new global ad campaign with its iconic burger covered in mold.

No, the “Moldy Whopper” is not a new menu item, but Burger King announced Wednesday that it is letting the burger rot to make a statement.

The fast-food chain said in a news release that it’s showing mold “can be a beautiful thing” to highlight removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper in most European countries and in select U.S. markets.

Unlike viral images and videos that have shown restaurant burgers changing very little over several years, the Burger King ad is a time-lapse referencing the number of days passed since the sandwich was prepared and showing the growth of mold. It includes a line that reads, “The beauty of no artificial preservatives.” 

Fernando Machado, global chief marketing officer for Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, told USA TODAY that officials wanted to do something that would stand out. 

“The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly. It’s common knowledge that real food deteriorates quicker because it is free of artificial preservatives,” Machado said. “Instead of featuring our Whopper sandwich with the classic flawless and often too perfect photographic style typically used in fast food advertising, we decided to showcase something real, honest and that only Burger King could do.”

Burger King has launched an ad campaign featuring a moldy Whopper.
Burger King has launched an ad campaign featuring a moldy Whopper.

A Whopper with no preservatives, colors or flavors from artificial sources is now available in 400 U.S. locations and “will reach all restaurants throughout the year,” Christopher Finazzo, Burger King’s president for the Americas, said in a statement.

The company also announced that more than 90% of food ingredients at Burger King restaurants are free from colors, flavors, and preservatives from artificial sources. MSG and high-fructose corn syrup have also been removed from all food items, the company said.

Moving away from artificial ingredients isn’t new.

Rival McDonald’s announced in 2018 that most of its burgers were free of fake colors, flavors and preservatives. 

A growing number of national fast-food chains have also said they would rid their chicken or beef supplies of antibiotics, including Chick-fil-A, which met its goal in May, months ahead of schedule.

Millennials also tend to favor foods with fewer artificial ingredients and that are less processed, Beth Bloom, market research firm Mintel’s associate director of U.S. food and drink, told USA TODAY in August.

“It’s OK for something to have fat,” Bloom said. “It just needs to be kind of whole ingredients.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Burger King’s new ad campaign has moldy Whopper to highlight changes