Jan 9, 2009

Mktg - Burger King Makes 'Sacrifice' on Facebook

Brian Morrissey

It's a common problem for anyone who joined Facebook some time ago. You look at your friend list and wonder who these people are.

Burger King wants to help consumers do something about it.

The fast-food chain has released the Whopper Sacrifice application on Facebook. The app rewards people with a coupon for BK's signature burger when they cull 10 friends. Each time a friend is excommunicated, the application sends a notification to the banished party via Facebook's news feed explaining that the user's love for the unlucky soul is less than his or her zeal for the Whopper.

The effort, crafted by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, came about after agency creative staffers confronted the too-many-friends scenario themselves on Facebook.

"We thought there could be some fun there, removing some of these people who are friends [but] not necessarily] best friends," said Jeff Benjamin, executive interactive creative director at Crispin, and friend to 736 on Facebook. "It's asking the question of which love is bigger, your love for your friends or your love for the Whopper," he said.

The app also adds a box to user profile pages charting their progress toward the free burger with the line, "Who will be the next to go?"

The application is available on Facebook and at WhopperSacrifice.com.

Whopper Sacrifice is the second application Crispin has built for BK. During the election, it released the BK Polarizer, a quiz widget that gauged where users stood on a political matrix compared to their friends.

Brand applications have a spotty record on Facebook, with few enjoying more than a temporary jolt in popularity before quickly fizzling. Some brands have begun rewarding consumers for installing their apps. One example is Kraft's current campaign that includes donations of meals to needy families when users get their friends to add the Kraft Facebook app.

"We always look at these social networks and think of what tool or thing we wish was here," Benjamin said. "A lot of times, brands force a feature or an application that I don't think people ever want. That's when you can waste some money."

The notion of dumping friends in exchange for a burger could offend some, though Crispin has not shied from controversy with BK. Its recent "Whopper Virgins" campaign, showing people in remote areas of the world introduced to fast food, came under fire from many critics. Benjamin said the agency and client were careful to make the application lighthearted rather than "vindictive."

"The [friend] removal is another kind of socializing," he said. "At first you think it's antisocial, but it's a social device. Now we finally have something to talk about."

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