Burger King Breaks All the Rules with the “Moldy Whopper” Ad

Every marketing graduate knows the purpose of a good advertisement is to communicate that your product is the best, most brilliant solution to a consumer’s given need.

Have a rug that just won’t stay clean? Here’s our innovative GX5000 Vacuum Cleaner!

Want to travel the world in style? Buy your first-class tickets on a world-class luxury cruise with unbelievable amenities and service!

And when it comes to hunger, an advertisement should make your mouth water.

Or should it?

Burger King’s latest ad campaign seems to believe that a delicious burger is not the way into the hearts and minds (or stomachs?) of consumers everywhere.

Introducing the Moldy Whopper

This month Burger King launched a disgustingly provocative ad campaign that should turn eyes and stomachs. Positioned up close and personal, a mold-infested, decomposing Whopper burger begs us to ask the question, “WTF?”

The purpose behind the campaign is not to suggest Burger King has decided to sell month-old chow. No, as the tagline explains, Burger King is using the gut-wrenching imagery to draw attention to its greater story: It is removing preservatives from its food.

Burger King wants to further distinguish itself from its long-time rival McDonald’s, which has been mocked for years for its physics-defying burgers and friends which, even after years, still never seem to decompose. There’s actually a shrine devoted to a burger and fries that have yet to show signs of aging—even 11 years later.

I mean, it kind of makes you wonder: Real food should decompose, and if McDonald’s food doesn’t, well, then that could only mean….

But Is Burger King Going About This the Right Way?

By placing close-ups of fungus-infested Whopper sandwiches in its ads, is the fast-food company really drawing you to its side of the aisle or just repulsing you further?

On the other hand, perhaps Burger King has developed a truly genius act of advertising.

We tend to believe in the simple notion that an ad can either be only good (i.e., effective) and bad (i.e., ineffective). A good ad sits on one side of the spectrum, perfectly poised to communicate the ideal solution to the ideal problem. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the advertisements that are offensive, demoralizing, or down-right confusing.

Perhaps the Moldy Whopper has broken through the edges of our simple spectrum. By pushing the envelope to the max and aligning disgustingly offensive visuals with a truly idealistic message (no preservatives), could Burger King barrel through the Bad end of the spectrum and circle back around, winding up as a Good ad?

What do you think about the Moldy Whopper? Let us know your thoughts on LinkedIn and Facebook.