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How Burger King Stole Customers from McDonald’s Using Creative Geo-targeting

Burger King has fewer outlets than its arch rival McDonald’s but it is using a creative marketing campaign to keep the competition on its toes.

Image credit: B&T Magazine

McDonald’s and Burger King are the two largest fast food hamburger chains in the world. With McDonald’s taking the number one slot, one would think Burger King would not be far behind. However, the gap between the two fast food chains is quite stark. According to a study by WPP and Kantar, McDonald’s’ brand value is worth 18 times more than Burger King’s. The former also has a more widespread presence with about twice as many restaurants worldwide.

The rivalry, spanning six plus decades, has produced some of the best advertising wars in history. Burger King, although it is at a disadvantage on paper, has taken an aggressive approach in its marketing campaigns – many a time taking head-on jabs at McDonald’s. In recent years, with the help of geo-targeting technology, Burger King has figured out a way to use McDonald’s extensive outlets to its own benefit.

Escape the Clown Campaign

In 2019, upon the release of the American horror movie ‘It Chapter Two’, Burger King Germany launched a geo-targeted campaign called Escape the Clown. Parodying the evil character in the ‘It’ movie, the campaign urged McDonald’s customers to escape the chain’s clown mascot, Ronald McDonald. And this was done while customers were inside McDonald’s premises.

Here’s how geo-targeting played a key role:

The marketing campaign did not end there:

The Whopper Detour Campaign

Earlier, in 2018, Burger King USA set up a mobile geo-fencing push notification targeting people within 600 feet of McDonald’s locations. Assuming they were in the mood for a burger, the notification urged the potential customers to download the Burger King app and avail of a Whopper for only one cent. Customers placed their order via the app and were directed to the nearest Burger King outlet to collect their food.

Existing Burger King customers who wanted to avail of the one-cent Whopper merely needed to drive towards a McDonald’s. The offer was unlocked within 600 feet of the destination, where they could place their orders via the app. The app then guided the customers to the nearest Burger King restaurant. Hence, the campaign was called the Whopper Detour.

While steering customers away from McDonald’s, the objective of the Whopper Detour campaign was also to promote the newly-redesigned Burger King mobile app with pre-order function. About 1.5 million downloads of the app took place during the 9 days of the campaign.

Using McDonald’s as a Delivery Hotspot

In its latest effort to target McDonald’s customers, Burger King Finland has placed out-of-home (OOH) advertisements right in front of McDonald’s restaurants all over Helsinki. The advertisements offered free delivery for all orders made near McDonald’s locations. The 3-day promotion is in partnership with a local food-delivery service named Wolt.

Image credit: FoodTribe

Although it does not use geo-targeting technology, the campaign proves that OOH advertising can work hand-in-hand with mobile apps to reach targeted consumers. It is also a way to compete with McDonald’s, which has far more outlets around the city compared to Burger King.

Mobile-first Strategy

Having always come second to McDonald’s, Burger King employs out-of-the-box marketing strategies that are not only bold but also trendy and fun in order not to fall too behind its competitor. Most of Burger King’s campaigns focus on driving app downloads and increasing digital engagements with customers. The brilliant use of mobile technology, facilitated by location tracking, geo-targeting and dynamic media placements has resulted in positive customer conversion and retention for the burger chain.

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