But Will It Sell Chicken?

If you're reading this, you're probably in the Internet marketing business, and thus you've received your 300th e-mail from a friend directing you to and prompting you to tell the chicken to do all sorts of crazy things.

The site is part of a marketing campaign for Burger King, ostensibly designed to reinforce the notion of "Have it your way" in the minds of consumers. Upon arriving at the site, visitors at first see a grey Burger King logo, then a mock webcam shot of a guy in a chicken suit. A text box below the webcam window entices visitors to give the chicken commands, many of which are faithfully executed. (Not actually live, but the site's use of pre-filmed video clips is convincing enough.) You can get the chicken to breakdance and even flap its wings in an attempt to get airborne and do all sorts of nutty stuff.

Shortly after the site debuted, folks all over the web began to wonder whether the whole thing was a takeoff on porn webcams. After all, the chicken is wearing a garter belt and both the grainy, jumpy delivery of the clips and the setting of the ad are highly reminiscent of a webcam porn site. To be fair, if you ask the chicken to do something that's even remotely sexual in nature, he'll refuse and shake a finger at you as if to say, "Nice try, but I don't think so."



To me, this wildly popular viral execution begs the question - will it help to sell chicken sandwiches?

Personally, I doubt it very much. This ad is a perfect example of what happens when an agency concerns itself primarily with "cool factor" and what can be accomplished technologically and only secondarily on what is good for the client and the client's brand.

Who wants to have a top-tier brand like Burger King associated with basement webcam porn? When I think about the Burger King brand, I think of pleasant things like Whoppers, onion rings and collecting the entire Yankees baseball card set over the course of several trips to Burger King in the late '70s. My brain has a problem reconciling fond images like this with the suggested association with porn.

No doubt, the agency responsible for this viral piece will hype the number of site visits to the client, as well as the low cost of producing the site. They'll point to press articles and tout their own ability to generate buzz and publicity around a brand. The numbers will look terrific, but if Burger King's marketing people do their jobs correctly, they'll assess whether or not tens of millions of site visitors are getting the right message about the brand and are more likely to visit their local Burger King as a result.

With this in mind, I visited once more and commanded the chicken to "commit seppuku like a disgraced Samurai." Sadly, porno chicken misunderstood me and did a little dance instead, blissfully unaware that the brand damage he's probably doing is akin to poking holes in one's abdomen with a very sharp sword.

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