Review: Comedian Starts Twitter Campaign Against Burger King

Note: These article reviews are being completed for my PR Campaigns class; however, I feel as though these PR articles are too interesting not to share. I hope you learn as much from them as I did! Links to the articles are provided below.

Allen, K. (2014, Oct. 14). Comedian starts Twitter campaign against Burger King. PR Daily. Retrieved 16 Oct. 2014 from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/17436.aspx

Burger King recently released a new commercial featuring a yelling spokesperson, a handful of nuggets, and two “unsuspecting” teens on the street. This commercial followed very similarly to the comedic act of funnyman Billy Eichner, who hosts a Funny or Die segment entitled “Billy on the Street.” In his act, Eichner goes up to random people on the street, asks absurd questions, gives out money, and yells. This style of comedy is recognized by other comedians as Billy’s style – as became apparent after Burger King released the ad. The video can be viewed here: http://ow.ly/CTMjM

Shortly following the video’s release, Eichner slammed the company to his 250,000+ followers on Twitter, stating, “Hey @BurgerKing-thanks for stealing my act for ur new commercial!! Except its not as funny & everyone knows u stole it. GET YOUR OWN IDEAS.”

The following day, Eichner spoke again about the ad’s poor taste, tweeting, “As annoying as it is to have Burger King rip me off, your tweets are incredible. I have the BEST fans on the planet!!! See u at McDonalds!”

Capitalizing on the opportunity, McDonald’s was quick to respond to Eichner’s complaints. Shortly after the disgruntled comedian’s second tweet, the fast-food giant replied, “@billyeichner Can’t wait to see you! Oh, and bring Elena!” – referencing a well-known contestant of “Billy On The Street.”

Other comedians also got in on the Burger King slamming, chiding the corporation for stealing Eichner’s classic material and being unoriginal in their marketing tactics. Prominent celebrity comedian Seth Rogen tweeted to his 2.3 million followers the message, “Yo @BurgerKing, stop stealing from the hilarious @billyeichner and stick to what you’re good at: giving me diarrhea.”

Throughout this social media firestorm, Burger King did not address the new commercial, Eichner’s complaints or the consumer backlash from Eichner’s fans. The company has yet to respond to Eichner’s discontent.

There were a few major issues that jumped out at me in Allen’s article. First of all, Burger King should have been more tasteful in their marketing campaign. Although the ad is entertaining, it is clear to any fan of the Funny or Die network that the content is strangely similar to Eichner’s segment. The company could have utilized Eichner in the commercial himself; however, this is essentially his creative license of his style of work. Without explicit permission from the comedian, it should have been recognized that the ad would leave a bad taste in the mouth of many.

Secondly, Burger King did not respond to the accusations. In our communication classes, we are taught that responses from companies need to be quick, honest, and to-the-point. We are also taught to closely monitor every social media platform.

On social media, one post has the capacity to garner millions of impressions – something that we have witnessed time and time again as the downfall of company reputations. A older (but still relevant!) example of this can be seen with Kryptonite’s lock fiasco back in the early 2000s. When a cyclist posted a video of breaking a Kryptonite lock with a Bic pen on a blogging forum, the company stayed radio silent for five days, and took ten to announce a solution. By this point, millions of consumers vowed that they would no longer trust the brand and the debacle costed Kryptonite over $10 million dollars.

When a company chooses not to respond on social media, this becomes incredibly risky business. Consumers have the chance to skew the information, spread falsities and ruin years of community relations in a few clicks. Burger King would be wise to address this scenario before it spirals out of control further; Eichner’s celebrity friends, like Rogen, have large and powerful fan bases in terms of spending power. In addition to Rogen’s followers, McDonald’s – a huge competitor of Burger King – was quick to remind Eichner that he’s always welcome at their chain. If the competition is quicker to respond to the thread than the actual subject of the complaint, consumers will notice and form opinions.