Did Burger King Rip Off These Junior Creatives for the ‘McWhopper’ Campaign?

By Patrick Coffee Comment

We’re all very aware that Burger King and its roster of no fewer than seven agencies won all media everywhere last week for trolling McDonald’s with its “let’s join forces to end negativity, friend” campaign.

How original was that idea, though? Several readers have picked up on some two-year-old student spec work that bears a striking resemblance to the “McWhopper” campaign: same concept, same charity, same two brands.

mcwhopper what

George E.F. Walters and Ewan Harvey are two British creative partners currently working at DLKW Lowe, and several readers have pointed us toward their portfolio–specifically its “One Week One Cause” spec work for the non-profit Peace One Day (which is the same organization involved in the Burger King campaign).

The concept behind the work unites notoriously antagonistic brands in the interest of promoting the nonprofit org’s “annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence.”

In their own words:

“How can we ask people to make peace for a day when we encourage brands to spend every minute at war?”

Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Other brand combinations include Coca-Pepsi and the Addinike, “a product of peace.”

addnike

We asked several contacts to compare the two efforts. One agency creative called Walters and Harvey’s idea “the McWhopper in all but name” while another told us that the campaigns resembled one another even though this version does “look like student work.” Yet another party was less impressed, telling us that the idea of rival brands coming together to promote peace was “pretty obvious.”

The similarities between the Big Mac Whopper and the McWhopper work are, at the very least, striking.

The two shared their idea two years ago, though it’s unclear where/when Burger King and its partner agencies may have encountered their work.

We reached out to Harvey, who writes:

“Ideas can come from anywhere! The work has been in our book and online portfolio since late 2013, however that does not necessarily mean that the makers of the McWhopper saw our work.

Our idea was a wider concept about bringing many brands together annually for Peace Day. We hope that this can still be the case as this idea could continue to raise awareness for an amazing charity year after year. The stunt from Y&R New Zealand feels like it is just the beginning of something that could be so much bigger and we hope it continues to evolve and grow.”

It would seem that quite a few people played with this basic idea over time, but Y&R was the party that eventually sold the concept to Burger King.

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