‘Whopper Detour,’ Burger King’s Masterpiece of Trolling, Wins Direct Grand Prix at Cannes

Plus two golds in Direct and four golds in Media

FCB New York's stunt for Burger King gave fans a 1-cent Whopper coupon, but only if they went to a McDonald's first. Burger King
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CANNES, France—Where exactly do you end up when you take a “Whopper Detour”? On stage at the Cannes Lions, apparently. That’s where Burger King and agency FCB New York tonight picked up a Grand Prix in the Direct Lions, along with six gold Lions across two categories.

The stunt drove 1.5 million Burger King app downloads by letting fans unlock a 1-cent Whopper—but only if they went to a McDonald’s location. Picked up by news media around the world, the campaign generated 3.5 billion earned media impressions and a 37-to-1 return on investment, according to the chain.

Direct Lions jury president Nicky Bullard, chairwoman and CCO of MRM McCann, described the campaign as “pure genius.”

“It was completely brilliant—and complete is the word. It was a complete campaign,” she said. “It used data and targeting to make you feel something. It’s just pure genius.”

The Direct Lions often spark debate among jurors and industry observers about how “direct marketing” is defined when it comes to modern, integrated campaigns that don’t match up with traditional concepts like direct mail.

But “Whopper Detour” was a clear example of truly direct marketing, said juror Robin Fitzgerald, CCO of BBDO Atlanta.

“It was a coupon. You can’t get more direct than that,” she said. “But it was done in a way that, culturally, was right at the moment and the way people were behaving. It was relevant. It was done in the spirit of the brand, that challenger spirit that Burger King has displayed year after year.”

“Whopper Detour” also won two golds across subcategories in the Direct Lions and four golds in the Media Lions, both of which were awarded today. Another Burger King campaign, “Burn That Ad” from David São Paulo, also won gold in Direct.

Fernando Machado, global CMO of Burger King, said “Whopper Detour” proves that the most obvious and convenient idea isn’t always the most effective.

“So, here is the deal. I will give you two options: Option A, you download the app and you get a free whopper. Options B, you download the app, input the credit card, drive to a McDonalds, order from there, pay one cent, drive back to Burger King and get your sandwich,” Machado said. “What do you think will work best? Well, we did option A, and our competitors did too. Didn’t work. No one cared about it. But when we did ‘Whopper Detour,’ which is pretty much Option B—we hit the jackpot. That’s the power of an idea. The power to bend logic.”

“‘Whopper Detour,'” he said, “is the most indirect idea to win the Direct Grand Prix in Cannes ever.”


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."