Burger King is proposing that arch-rival McDonald’s join it in a one-day cease-fire by opening a pop-up shop in Atlanta on Sept. 21 to sell a specially concocted “McWhopper” that “gets the world talking” about Peace One Day, an annual “day of global ceasefire and nonviolence” founded in 1999.
It did so in full-page ads running today in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. BK also has opened a (slow-to-load) website at mcwhopper.com to help the folks in McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., “better understand” the “sincere” proposal.
“The sandwich has six ingredients from the Big Mac (including special sauce, all-beef patty and cheese), and six from the Whopper (flame-grilled patty, onion, pickles, etc.),” Bloomberg’s Craig Giammona reports. It’s “all the tastiest bits of your Big Mac and our Whopper, united in one delicious, peace-loving burger,” according to the proposal.
There’s also a YouTube video, of course.
“As two of the world’s largest brands, we are in the perfect position to influence change,” a voiceover intones. “And like BK, McDonald’s is committed to leveraging its size, scope and resources to help make the world a better place.”
The video features an appearance by Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley, a British documentary filmmaker and actor.
“The thing I like about the McWhopper project is that it walks the walk. It leads by example, and demonstrates a genuine commitment to Peace Day...,” Gilley says, after popping through a mock wall of paper. “Corporate activism on this scale creates mass awareness and awareness creates action and action saves lives,” he says.
The food will be free but customers will have to agree to sign a document averring that they will #settlethebeef with someone with whom they have been at odds. Staffing would come from both organizations. Atlanta was chosen because is “halfway between our two headquarters,” Burger King says in the copy for the video.
BK, which is now owned by Brazil-based 3G Capital, still has its headquarters in Miami.
“Burger King has a long history of pulling off marketing stunts in order to generate publicity,” points out Suzanne Vranica in the Wall Street Journal. “In 1998, the company ran an ad in USA Today, introducing the Left-Handed Whopper, an April Fools’ joke. In 2007, a marketing stunt called ‘Whopper Freakout’ filmed patrons being told the Whopper had been taken off the menu.”
This year it also brought back its King mascot, Vranica points out, including special appearances at events such as the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight in May and the Belmont Stakes in June.”
“Burger King’s reliance on marketing stunts helps the company grab attention in a crowded field,” she writes. “The resulting free press and social buzz also bolsters the company’s marketing firepower since its ad spending pales in comparison to its rival McDonald’s.”
But BK is doing its diplomatic best to make this seem like more than your average stunt.
“We’re being completely transparent with our approach because we want them to take it seriously,” says Fernando Machado, SVP for global brand management at Burger King, in a statement. “It would be amazing if McDonald’s agrees to do this.”
“One sticking point might be the ketchup. McDonald’s famously stopped using Heinz ketchup when 3G bought the company, and Burger King has suggested using it on the McWhopper,” writes Stephanie Strom for the New York Times. “And there’s no word about which of the chains would supply fries.”
Everything in the proposal is up for discussion, BK says, from the name to a packaging proposal it makes to, presumably, the ingredients.
“The only thing we can’t change is the date. So let’s talk soon,” it concludes.
Strom reports that McDonald’s declined to comment and it still had not publicly responded to the peace offering as of 7:30 a.m.