Burger King Summons the Ghost of Ronald McDonald in Voice-Activated Bloody Mary Stunt

A spooky version of competitor's mascot appears in restaurant bathroom mirrors

ghost of ronald mcdonald
Burger King continues its tradition of mocking McDonald's, this time by resurrecting Ronald McDonald. Burger King / INGO Stockholm

Do you remember as a kid, standing terrified in front of the mirror as you said “Bloody Mary” three times, daring to keep only one eye open while fearing and hoping the royal ghost herself would appear?

The legend emerged back in the 1960s as a scary teenage party game and has appeared in popular novels, movies and TV series including Paranormal Activity and The X-files.

This Halloween, Burger King in Sweden and Denmark has resurrected this ghoulish folklore but with a twist that gives its biggest competitor, McDonald’s, a ribbing.

The fast-food chain has installed voice recognition and two-way smart mirrors across a selection of its restaurant restrooms in Sweden and Denmark, and is daring people to say “canceled clown” aloud three times—in a thinly veiled dig at McDonald’s having scaled back the role of its famous mascot a few years ago.

After the smart mirror detects the phrase being repeated, the clown is summoned. The restroom lights dramatically cut out as visual and sound effects make a pretty scary Ronald McDonald-inspired phantom appear in the mirror.

Swedish agency Ingo Stockholm created a short social teaser film for the stunt, which you can watch below.

If you’re brave enough, you can watch the ghastly ghoul himself appear in this film below. Do you dare?

Burger King has also continued its Halloween-themed marketing with a U.S. stunt titled “Scary Places,” which encourages consumers to drive by the abandoned sites of its shuttered competitors in order to claim a free Whopper.

When customers arrive at the closed restaurants—in Dayton, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; McHenry, Ill.; and Johnston, R.I.—they can redeem a coupon to get a free burger.

The mocking of McDonald’s is a hallmark of Burger King’s tongue-in-cheek marketing style, like when Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” lured fans all the way to McDonald’s just to unlock a 1-cent Whopper coupon and then drive away, and when BK’s ads about “clown-free birthday parties” used real pictures of kids crying to poke fun at Ronald McDonald.

Last month, the chain trolled its rival by responding to customer complaints across McDonald’s social channels with funny answers and link to redeem a free Whopper.

Speaking of the “Canceled Clown” campaign, Daniel Schröder, marketing director at Burger King Sweden, said: “The clown doesn’t seem to be happy with the way things ended. But we hope he finds his peace and can move on to bigger and better things.”

CREDITS (Canceled Clown):
Client: Burger King Sweden
Marketing Manager: Daniel Schröder
Marketing Communications and Media Manager: Gabriella Bartlett
General Manager: Iwo Zakowski
Agency: INGO Stockholm
Executive Creative Director: Björn Ståhl
Art Director: Max Hultberg
Copywriter: Magnus Ivansson
Planner: Simon Stefansson
Creative technologist: Stefan Kindgren
Account Manager: Anna Baker
Account Executive: Richard Allstrin
PR: Frida Nordström, Filip Enochson, Miltton
Amplify 360 by Verizon Media: Susanne Persson, Anna Taussi

CREDITS (Scary Places):
Agency: MullenLowe US
Executive Creative Director: Tim Vaccarino
Executive Creative Director: Dave Weist
SVP, Creative Director: Enrique Camacho
Associate Creative Director: Cody Dummer
Art Director: Helen Reiger
SVP, Executive Director of Integrated Production: Lisa Setten
Executive Producer: Brian Smith
Director of Print Production: Aidan Finnan
Senior Art Producer: Ingrid Adamow
Senior Digital Producer: Chris Badders
Sr. Motion Designer: Jeremiah True
Motion Designer: Jennifer McMahon
Content Producer: Maurice Loach
Sr. Editor: Ethan Goldhammer
Animator: Andrew Lee
VP, Associate Studio Director: Mark Danish
Sr. Layout Artist: Nick Minieri
Layout Artist: Erinn Scammon
SVP, Group Strategy Director: Mike Cassell
Brand Strategist: Adriana Solache Olijve
Community Manager: Morgan Playle
Director of Business Affairs: Kim Burns
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Amy Keddy
Project Management Supervisor: Nicole Capone
Account Director: Alison Whisenant
Account Executive: Gil Carrigan
Retouching Artist: Diego Speroni
Agent: Freddy Fabris

@saramayspary sara.spary@adweek.com Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.