Whopper Freakout Commercial – The Power Of Testimonials Or Something More?

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There’s been lots of Web chatter about the viral power of the latest Web video from Burger King. It’s called Whopper Freakout Commercial. It’s on YouTube and you can view it here:

When I first watched the Whopper Freakout Commercial, the candid approach and quirky style was understated against what I thought was the true power of this Web video: the power of testimonials. If you ever read anything by Jeffrey Gitomer (the author of The Sales Bible and many other easy-to-read books on the power of selling), you would know that he considers testimonials one of the best tools a salesperson can use to close a deal. We’ve seen the power of testimonials grow through word of mouth marketing and strengthen even more when introduced to the power of the Web, and the masses of people that can (and do) take a product/service and make it spread.

The heart-felt testimonials in this video were not what inspired me to Blog about Whopper Freakout Commercial.

This video also demonstrates raw passion. One person talks about how when they were younger, their family would drive pretty far because there was not a Burger King where they lived. Oddly enough, this took me back. Growing up we didn’t have Burger King in Montreal, so when we would go day-shopping to the United States, one of the biggest treats was being able to eat at Burger King. I had not thought about that in decades (in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had a burger at any fast food joint). That person’s testimonial took me back. Fond memories. Good times. I could taste the flame-broiled Whopper, smell the fries, and even hear the soda fountain filling up a cup of Coke. That is what you want a brand to do to you.

The memories that took me back to my youth is not what inspired me to Blog about Whopper Freakout Commercial.

When I was visiting Singapore to speak this past year, I was at the same event as John Kerr, Asia Pacific Director, New Media of Edelman (the largest independently-owned Public Relations firm). During his presentation he told the group that, "the shaky cam has become the most trusted news sources." Meaning, video production like the one you can witness with Whopper Freakout Commercial, is much more trusted to the general public than a slick and well-produced piece. It needs to "feel" authentic. Which this one does.

The authenticity of this clip is not what inspired me to Blog about Whopper Freakout Commercial.

Seven minutes and thirty five seconds. That’s how long Whopper Freakout Commercial is. 7:35. The YouTube one I viewed was approaching close to 90,000 views with a rating of 4/5 and close to five hundred comments. I just spent close to eight minutes watching a Burger King commercial (not including the ten minutes-plus  it took me to write this Blog posting). That’s a serious time commitment. That’s serious time spent.

Time spent.

That’s the new currency of the Social Media space and the new metric we need to understand and learn from. Spending 7:35 with Burger King (something I would never normally do) is what inspired me to Blog about Whopper Freakout Commercial.

It also really did get me thinking about have a Whopper at some point in the near-future. If that’s not powerful, I don’t know what is.


  1. I really enjoyed the 8 minutes I spent watching this. A creative approach showing some clear passion for their product.
    You raise a fantastic point about the new currency of Social Media being time spent. Certainly gets you thinking, eh?

  2. I loved this video for an entirely different reason. Years ago (I was probably 16) I was a very enthusiastic activist. (Your home town, Montreal, even put me up in their fine prison establishment for a while. Very nice of them.)
    Anyway, I once co-organized a protest against McDonalds. (Many good reasons to do so, take your pick.) I was truly surprised by how passionately angry the restaurant’s patrons were. All we did was inform them of the “true cost” of their burgers (e.g. the “externalized cost” mentioned in Story of Stuff). All I can say is don’t cross someone intent on getting french fries. Several people tried to run me over. I ducked a few punches. I was shoved around quite a bit. Notably, McDonalds themselves were professional about it. It was their customers who took it upon themselves to try to get rid of us.
    This BK commercial just reminds me why taking on fast food is a futile effort. The customers, not the corporation, and the ones who are the most passionate about the food.

  3. Thanks Marty and Mario.
    You both raise additional points: with this much time spent, the message has more potential to affect people in different ways.
    I think this speaks to the editing and production. Even though it looks low-tech – the shots and pieces they chose for the final video is pro – all the way.

  4. Mitch,
    A very thoughtful post, as always. I have to wonder about the accuracy in measuring “time spent.” I’ll give you two examples.
    I heard about the Whopper Freakout video last week too. I took a look at it, got the gist about halfway through, then shut the window. I didn’t need to watch all 7:35. I knew what was coming. But to YouTube, I’m one of the 90K viewers. You can’t tell me that all 90K watched the video in its entirety.
    Also, I open any number of tabs in Firefox as I’m working – blogs I want to read, Google Reader items that I open in a new tab, etc. And sometimes these tabs stay open all day, because I haven’t been able to get around to reading them or blogging about them. I cringe at the thought that I may be throwing these bloggers’ stats way off by keeping the tab open so long – they’ve got to be wondering, “Wow, who’s spending 4:24:01 on my blog post?”
    I guess my point here is that time spent alone is not a completely accurate measure of engagement, nor does it tell us anything about likelihood of activity. It’s only when we measure time in conjunction with other metrics that we can understand it better.

  5. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Scott.
    Impressions and other traditional forms of measuring video-like advertising (30-second spots) are also unable to measure engagement unless mixed with additional Marketing metrics and analytics.
    Even if you only watched 4:30 – that’s a whole shedload more than thirty seconds… and the content has also ignited a conversation that has you thinking “Burger King” (granted, not necessarily in a positive light). You’re still “engaged”.
    From my perspective, this type of advertising is less about engagement and more about branding – breaking through the clutter and creating awareness along with conversation.
    For a while, Marketers were talking about 10-second spots and other techniques to create awareness. In a fast-food economy (no pun intended), I think this type of video defies that theory too.
    I guess the big question is this: would you prefer to have people spending a couple of minutes with your brand or a couple of seconds?
    When Subservient Chicken came out many people said the same thing as you are saying. Burger King was able to prove that many things – including Subservient Chicken – did contribute to record sales and a better awareness that Burger King also sells chicken.
    Food for thought? (ok, I promise to stop now with the bad puns).

  6. Clearly, content is the new promotion strategy. Whether it’s helpful, hopeful, or humorous, content is the means by which attention is earned. It cuts through the clutter of the 3000-5000 marketing messages we get hit with every day.

  7. Hey Mitch… long-time reader, first-time commenter ;-)…
    All I know is that the 7:35 that I spent watching that video is typically more time than I would spend in a fast food joint (or should that be “good food served quickly”) scarfing down a burger, fries and beverage…
    Have a great holiday, and hopefully we’ll connect in 2008.

  8. @ Bill Seaver – Content is media more than ever… this is a great example. Thanks for pointing that out.
    @ Brendan – I’m with you on this. That7:35 is more time than I’ve spent in a “good food served quickly” place in a long, long time too.

  9. Yeah. This campaign accomplished so many things at once. The power of the Whopper brand. The relevance of Burger King. I’m surprised and delighted that a corporation this huge didn’t mess it up.

  10. The actors are phony, the acting is overdone. Unbelievable tenet. Really, really bad. I hate the commercial, and wouldn’t touch a whopper, regardless.

  11. What I love about burger king is they have stayed true to the franchise over all the years. McDonalds and Wendy’s both tried to appeal to a wider audience when they came out with salads and other supposedly healthy foods (which they obviously aren’t). While McDonalds shows a commercial to get a salad, BK comes out with a commercial to have a big, fat, juicy double whopper w/ cheese. I love it. 🙂

  12. You are completely right about the power of testimonials !
    That’s why our company (BBC) appealed to Our Clients (www.our-clients.com). Our-clients is an online tool that makes it easy to collect testimonials from your clients and keep them up-to-date.
    The testimonials are completely trustworthy thanks to the fact that not only you but also your clients have control on what is published. And testimonials have to be updated or confirmed every 12 months. So you end up with a list of testimonials that are real and recent. Only those will convince your prospects.

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