Burger King: Chicken Fries Are Back
In early 2014, Burger King had found itself in a competitive market for engaging young millennials and teens. Attracting millennial attention—and finding creative ways to accommodate their new behaviors, tastes and routines—wasn’t easy.
Attitudes and meal behaviors had shifted – they had increasingly become “clockless” eaters, snackable items had become the plat-du-jour, and Burger King’s menu was lacking options. Not surprisingly, millennial store traffic had gone down year-over-year since 2010.
In order to get more teens and young millennials to Burger King, we needed to get them excited about the brand again, and give them a reason to go.
By January 2014, we noticed a unique trend happening in social.
People were talking non-stop about a snackable, “crave-worthy” menu item that Burger King had discontinued nearly two years prior: Chicken Fries.
During its peak in Q1 2014, for every three times a consumer mentioned “Burger King” on social media, the phrase “Chicken Fries” was mentioned at least once. This was remarkable, as this product hadn’t been promoted or advertised since 2012.
Millennials and teens longed for Chicken Fries, and begged Burger King to bring them back. That’s when our big insight hit:
We were depriving these consumers of a product that would give them a reason to start visiting Burger King again, and a reason to talk about the brand in a positive way on social.
We knew what we had to do. We had to bring them back, and do it in a big way.
Our idea was simple: We would create a movement by bringing back a product that teens and young millennials have been crying out for, and give them all the credit.
We announced the return of Chicken Fries by planting a seed with our most vocal fans and letting them spread the news for us.
We Started A Little Rumor
We set it off with our brand ambassadors on the front lines: Burger King employees. We carefully selected Burger King locations with a high teen & early millennial index (e.g., college towns) and pre-shipped them Chicken Fries product, training videos, and the new packaging, which was social by design. We knew they wouldn’t be able to help themselves from leaking this news to their friends. These social leaks – like snapshots of our Chicken Fries packaging – sparked the anticipated social media firestorm ahead of the big reveal and set off a chain reaction.
We Confirmed The Rumor
Snapchat was key in getting the word out 5 days before launch. To further rally excitement, we announced the news with Tweets, Instagrams and Vines that acknowledged fan anticipation. Everything drove consumers to join in with the hashtag: #chickenfriesareback.
We Filled Their Universe With Sharable Content
We sent a “Snacktivist Party” care package to our most loyal super fans. This “Snacktivist” theme was brought to life through images, GIFs, Vines, videos and more, which we shared on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Our audience event imitated the imagery, developing and sharing their own original content across their own channels.
We Told The Story In Entertaining Ways
Our narrative was all about how fan fanaticism drove Chicken Fries’ return. We partnered with sites that had both reach and content creation expertise such as Buzzfeed, The Onion, Maker Studios and Adult Swim, to create a plethora of funny short form videos and snackable content to tell that story at scale. We also tapped into the power of influencers by arranging Instagram endorsements with celebs like Keeping Up With Kardashians’ Scott Disick.
The Burger King Chicken Fries campaign was a massive success.
The Internet Freaked Out
The campaign generated 1,380,463,889 media impressions in outlets like E! News and TIME Magazine. In social, the Chicken Fries campaign ignited an explosion of conversation. We also drove 1.62 billion social media impressions – 93 percent of which were organic.
Burger King said bringing back its Chicken Fries helped sales jump in the U.S. and Canada by the biggest amount in two years.
Millennials Came Back
The #ChickenFriesAreBack campaign drove a significant increase in traffic among teens and millennials.
Burger King Became Cool Again
In its survey of millennials conducted following the campaign, Research firm YouGov found that perceptions of Burger King actually increased 44% during the first 2 weeks of the campaign.