So…By now we’ve all seen or heard about Burger King’s New “Shower Cam” Microsite. If you haven’t yet, well, check it out, but not at work.
My first instinct was, a simple, “wow, I can’t believe they did this” reaction. Followed by a “wow, this is getting some incredible buzz, brilliant!”
That’s problem with transitioning from PR to Advertising – two internal, often conflicting, perspectives on these types of stunts.
So, in order to reconcile these to ideologies, I often pose questions to myself, to gauge the success of such endeavors. For example:
What purpose did it serve?
Does this site aim to generate buzz? If so, has it been positive or negative? Or does that not matter?
Was the site designed to drive traffic to stores, and with it sales? If so, did it succeed?
How did the campaign affect public perception of the brand? Is the stunt consistent with the brand’s previous messaging?
I’m sure perception of the site will differ based on gender, so I can only speak from a guy’s point of view, but I can clearly understand why men and women alike would consider this to be a tasteless & misogynistic ploy that in no way relates to the brand.
Yes, Burger King is known for their controversial stunts, like when they offered free burgers to Facebook fans who unfriended people, aka the Whopper Sacrifice. But this, IMHO, crosses the line as it alienates 50% of the population (women).
Furthermore, as a branding strategist, I have to ask, yes, guys (and some girls too) love watching women take showers – with or without bikinis on – and I’m sure plenty would love to win a date with the Shower Babe – what the fuck does it have to do with burgers? I see absolutely no connect to the brand’s core goal of increasing store traffic & selling food, thus reducing this site to a cheap, desperate stunt, predicated on the exploitation of women and sex. So why stop there BK, why not dive headfirst and have her go bikiniless – that certainly would have generated even more of the same buzz, and clearly you’re not afraid of backlash and/or employee zero women with any clout or influence on decisions. And no, I won’t take “well, this was launched in Europe, so you have to consider the cultural divide” bullshit. That doesn’t fly when you launch a website internationally viewable – regardless of the “.co.uk” in the URL.
So, back to my questions. I’m still at a loss as to what purpose this site serves, other than to create buzz and incite some feminist groups.
Yes it generated a ton of buzz – but around what? This isn’t a new product launch. There’s no breaking news or promotions affiliated with the shower babe.
Are there any deals available through this site not available elsewhere? Not that I know of…but correct me if I’m wrong.
As for the public perception of the brand – I’m not a frequent patron of the chain, but if anything, this distasteful maneuver would discourage me from partaking in any whopper related foodstuffs in the future.
Adage’s coverage of the stunt included this tasty little quote:
Sarah Power, marketing director U.K. and Eire for Burger King, said in a statement: “Our shower-cam gives hungry Brits the chance to watch the BK Shower Girl singing in the shower every day to help them work up an appetite for our fantastic new breakfast range.”
Um…so you’re an idiot? That’s all I took out of that statement.
Maybe I’m overreacting here – But I really don’t see the point of the site, other than incurring some modest hype and with it, backlash. I don’t foresee any positive impact on store traffic or sales – making it an ROI fail.
It doesn’t promote or achieve anything that couldn’t be done without begging for the negative press.
If the objective was to create semi-pornographic that has absolutely no place in the brand’s larger messaging and digital strategy, well then I suppose they’ve succeeded, but perhaps they are unaware of billion or so other websites that have showcase ACTUAL pornography.
So again, what added value does this site offer? It’s not innovative content or entertainment, it’s doesn’t drive sales, and it doesn’t inform. If you can think of any please let me know.
Here are some thoughts from my twitter friends on the issue. As usual, please weigh in; I’d love to hear your thoughts and counterarguments.