There was something refreshing about The Burger King’s visit to Bob Baffert’s private box at Belmont Park this past weekend. Mr. Baffert is the renowned trainer of American Pharaoh, the thoroughbred colt that won the Triple Crown Sunday. There he was, innocuously hangin’ out in Bob’s box, sometimes giving us a thumbs up or just chillin’ behind Baffert and his wife. He’d watch the track a bit as if being inconspicuous, then flash that frozen mask smile in the direction of the cameras. Brilliant. I can’t think of an ad that ever really made me point to the TV, and say, “Did you see that?” And it wasn’t even actually an ad. Of course I paused the DVR and took a few screen shots.
This idea is too good to be a one-off, and clearly it’s not. It comes on the heels of The King joining Floyd “Money” Mayweather during his walk to the ring in last month’s title bout. According to Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden and as reported by Ad Age yesterday: “Baffert … made a deal to allow a man in a Burger King costume to stand in his box during the race.”
Hey let’s face it, in the world of ubiquitously bad fast food burgers, there seems to be little value in doing ads that say “my shitty burger is better than your shitty burger.” No one talks about that. But if you can inject the brand into popular culture, it just might become the conversation.
What’s beautiful about this idea is it comes at a time when advertisers are desperately trying to be more stealthy about their advertising, to blend in, be useful, and not offend.
This does none of those things. It’s an idea of juxtaposition. It feels delightfully wrong. It’s an idea that insinuates its message, in this case delivered by a fully costumed Burger King, into your living room in a blatant display of consumerism. It throws the brand in your face for no redeeming reason other than, well it’s unexpected and pretty damn funny. It makes no apology, nor any pretense of being anything else, and that’s the beauty.
I will, with great anticipation, look forward to more creative and unexpected appearances by The King. For Burger King, this effort has been focused on is sports marketing channels. But it seems to me there’s tons of potential for celebrity appearances with The King, like at Fashion Week, or a Met Gala. It’s advertising disruption of the best kind.
And the ROI? Well, if I ever find myself stuck in the middle of nowhere, hungry, and with no other choice but BK and Maccie D’s, it’s gonna be dinner with the King. Just ‘cause