CP+B Puts BK Chicken Through Its Paces

NEW YORK Burger King touts its TenderCrisp chicken sandwich with three TV spots and a Web site from Crispin Porter + Bogusky featuring a “subservient chicken.”

The three spots, directed by Rocky Morton of MJZ, show a person in a chicken suit living in an apartment with 20-somethings. In one ad, a man flips through Polaroids of different outfits and selects one for the chicken to wear. In another, a woman drops a pencil so she can watch the chicken bend down to fetch it. “Chicken, just the way you like it,” a voiceover states. “Have it your way” remains the tagline.

“It’s just sort of an analogy, the notion that this chicken wants you to have it your way and you’re in control,” said Alex Bogusky, executive creative director at the Miami shop. “It’s taking ‘Have it your way,’ going a little bit more contemporary and having a little bit more fun with it.”

In the companion Web site, www.subservientchicken.com, the same man in a chicken suit appears as though on a Web cam. Viewers are invited to type in an action, such as “kick” or “do a split,” which the chicken performs. The site went live the same day the ads broke, April 8, and has become somewhat of a phenomenon, garnering about 20 million hits in one week, according to Bogusky.

“Literally within a day we had 1 million hits,” Bogusky said. “It was outrageous.” He credits the popularity of the site to people trying to discover how the chicken is able to follow most typed-in instructions. Some conjectured on blogs that Burger King had hundreds of people in chicken suits around the country being filmed on Web cams. In fact, CP+B came up with about 400 different actions that the chicken could do, and then filmed them in the course of a day in Los Angeles.

“Because things refresh at a slow rate on Web cams, you can camouflage where one clip goes into another,” Bogusky said. “There were all these jumps in the motion anyway, so it was pretty easy at that point to weave [clips] together.”

The ads and site are a supplement to current BK spots running now, showing office workers doling out BK sandwiches at lunch. The “subservient chicken” ads target a younger, 20-something male, according to Bogusky, and will air on cable networks such as MTV and Spike TV and network shows like Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

“They’re not very middle America executions; they’re a bit more cutting edge creatively,” Bogusky said. “We need to increase the relevance of Burger King to a young 20-something male. So we’re doing some funky work that feels closer to Budweiser than it feels to Wendy’s or McDonald’s. That’s where we want to take this thing.”