Have It Your Way With BK.com

So here I am, watching the twitching lights of the Simpsonizer, a gray thing that looks like a giant toaster from the 1940s (with a touch of the dashboard of Homer’s office at the nuclear reactor thrown in.) I’ve fed the machine my vitals (straight hair, professional dress, big yellow face) and am waiting for my cartoon visage to emerge.

When did that Simpsons’ movie with the Burger King tie-in come out — two years ago? Somehow I missed the opportunity to Simpsonize myself back in 2007. So that’s pretty amazing that I’m sitting here like a kid on Christmas morning playing with that particular app on the new Burger King site. The Christmas analogy is apt. With all its horizontal and vertical stamp-size windows, the latest version of BK.com is like a non-religious (and highly commercial) advent calendar come to life, with each iconic window beckoning with the offer of a gift, or entertainment, or information. Or like the Forrest Gumpish box of chocolates, it seems to offer the infinite variety of life itself (from the POV of a certain velvet-frocked ruler with a scary plasticized face.) That’s an important distinction. It’s not a corporate site — it’s the living brand, waiting to be played with in all its iterations. Yup, I’m totally sold on the site, which takes a human, curatorial approach that sets a new standard for brands everywhere, and according to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, was built entirely in-house in collaboration with Burger King’s IT group.

It’s the ultimate, customizable “have it your way” bit of advertising that aggregates all previous microsites and URLs, and also provides an easy and entertaining way to get menu and nutritional info (stack your own burger, and count the grams of fat and sodium if you can bear it). Actually, this again proves counterintuitive — like what I learned at Dunkin’ Donuts, that a muffin is way more fattening than a cruller. Of course, I’m not the BK superfan that the site is pitched to (generally males from 18-35). I have girlie diet issues. Like I would never dream of ordering Cheesy Tots, for fear of blimping out right there in the chair. But with my easy to use finder, it turns out the Tots have fewer calories and less fat and sodium than the Tender Grill salad, which would be my normal go-to order. There’s also a store locator: with the help of Google mapping, users can navigate through local streets or get the cool overhead view.

OK, time to check on my picture. D’oh! It says the digital photo I uploaded was too small and didn’t have enough pixels, or something. That’s the same one I had no problem posting to Facebook. OK, I’ll try another picture.

Meanwhile, I’m off to train at the Kingon Academy. I sort of missed that whole thing, too (I’m the kind of person who the SciFi channel misguidedly changed its name to SyFy for, although I won’t really go there either way). Anyway, this is really hilarious, even though I had no idea what a Gamelan arm-burn is or that giving a purple nurple could be so fun. It also dispenses wisdom, like “to defend against a flat tire, you need a fresh towel and an iron will.” It made me an officer, and I’m proud.
OK, time to check on the photo. Is it soup yet? Damn. Same problem. Will try again with third photo. Meanwhile, time to revisit the Subservient Chicken, which these days looks like it came out of the dark ages!

Crispin is still working on the site (there will be some facial-recognition software soon, and a smart phone version.) Even without that, consumers love seeing old commercials, and every brand should think about archiving its classic ads on a similar platform.

OK. How’s my pic? Still not working! I’ve watched that quarter-of-a-donut go around and around to show the machine is at work, and that’s fun the first few times. It gets disappointing, though, and shows that the universe is customizable only when you have the right pixels.