Indecisive burger fans of the world rejoiced yesterday after Burger King proposed a one day pop up restaurant serving the McWhopper, a combination of its own Whopper and the Big Mac of arch-rival McDonald's.
The idea (read: publicity stunt) was announced in an open letter to McDonald’s, which can be found on this all-singing, all-dancing, specially created website. Apparently, Burger King wants to ‘end the beef, with beef’, in honour of the UN’s World Peace Day, on September 21.
‘We know we’ve had our petty [should that be patty?] differences, but how about we call a ceasefire on these so-called "burger wars"?’
It was a clever move. If McDonald’s said yes, it would give both firms a healthy (yet cheap) dollop of publicity with a side of association with a good cause, but Burger King would come out better as it was its idea. If McDonald’s said no, it would look like a killjoy.
Clearly, it was a delicate situation for McDonald’s boss Steve Easterbrook. So what did he do?
This. (PR professionals may want to look away now).
‘Great idea,’ said McDonald’s boss Steve Easterbrook in a Facebook post. ‘We love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference. We commit to raise awareness worldwide [sic]. Perhaps you’ll join us in making a meaningful effort?’
Oh dear. It goes on. ‘And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequalled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war. We’ll be in touch... P.S. A simple phone call will do next time.’
Petty? Check. Mean? Check. Boring? Check. Moralising? Check. As a piece of corporate communication, it’s a Whopper (or should that be a McFail?). Surely it would have just been easier to go along with it?
Responses to the post on Facebook appear to be universally negative, ranging from Drew Moody’s ‘P.S: a simple phone call to BK would have been a MUCH a better way to go about shooting down such a brilliant and fun idea’, to Kimberly Necolie Garrasi’s ‘what a douchy response’.
This is the last thing McDonald’s needs. Its US sales have fallen for seven consecutive quarters as customers leave for the growing array of fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Shake Shack, or indeed opt for the still expanding Burger King.
It’s also nipped a potential wave of arch-rival collaborations firmly in the bud, denying us such treats as the iGalaxy or the Cokesi (though presumably no one would actually want an ice cold soft drink once hell’s frozen over). We can still hope, eh?