Burger King’s Moldy Whopper Is Disgusting, According to Social Media Analysis

But the campaign's hashtag has garnered more than 21 million impressions

moldy whopper
Brandwatch analyzed the social media response to Burger King's Moldy Whopper campaign.
Photo Illustration: Aanya Gupta; Sources: Burger King

Nearly 50,000 people have chimed in on social media to say that watching a Burger King Whopper be devoured by mold is disgusting, according to data gathered by social analytics company Brandwatch.

The campaign, which was developed through a partnership with three different agencies—Ingo, David and Publicis—was created to introduce the world to the “beauty of no artificial preservatives.”

A series of incredible high-resolution videos and photos of the deteriorating burger launched last week, breaking all the basic rules of food marketing. But does that mean that people are more likely to buy a burger that they’ve seen overtaken by countless strains of blue and green mold? Some fuzzy, some lumpy, some white and cloud-like? It’s hard to say.

With that in mind, Brandwatch looked at how people responded to the campaign on social media at the time of the launch, and found that while it certainly caught the attention of the internet, nearly 60% of Burger King mentions were negative.

But that’s kind of what the fast-food chain was going for. In many cases, the negative statements around the brand were started by official Burger King accounts. The official BK tweet that called the Moldy Whopper ugly has more than 7,000 likes.

So it would be wrong to say that “negative” brand associations were actually bad—the shock value of the campaign was certainly part of its genius.

Emotionally, people overwhelming reacted with disgust, dwarfing other emotions tracked by Brandwatch in those 50,000 mentions. The total of reactions of joy, anger, sadness, fear and surprise registered less than the grand total of “disgusting.”

The most common hashtags in social media responses after #burgerking and #moldywhopper were #advertising and #marketing, indicating that it truly made a splash among industry professionals. A tweet from Burger King global CMO Fernando Machado’s personal account got more 1,200 likes—and lots of praise from marketers in the comments.

Overall mentions spiked by more than 500% after the launch, and the Moldy Whopper hashtag received over 21 million impressions.

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