Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Brand leaders don't always have a sense of humor.
Somehow, when you get to the top you begin to believe there's a certain way to behave and that generally involves taking yourself seriously.
When Apple was the underdog -- yes, it's been a while -- it mercilessly mocked Microsoft to the point at which Bill Gates's company,and indeed Gates himself, became something of joke. Who could ever forget the long-running Get A Mac campaign in which a young Justin Long amusingly and serially derided John Hodgman's Bill Gates-like character?
Burger King has tended to do the same to McDonald's. Why, when it heard that Kanye West loved McDonald's, Burger King created what was then the most liked brand tweet of all time. (It didn't involve a compliment.)
At the end of 2019, Burger King tripped into mocking controversy again. The Whopper people made a somewhat outrageous claim about McDonald's and its Big Mac.
Strategically, Burger King likes to push its Whopper as bigger and therefore more satisfying.
So, in the U.K., it released a video insisting that a Big Mac had been secretly placed behind the Whopper in every single ad last year. Because it's so much smaller than the Whopper, went the claim, no one knew it was there.
On YouTube, Burger King added the entirely sincere wish:
Thanks for having our back this year Maccy Ds.
This might all seem like cheery banter. Yet, as Apple once showed, every little dig adds to the pile of previous efforts. You know the brand leader is unlikely to fight back. Part of being a brand leader means making customers believe you're above carping at your smaller rivals.
Moreover, one of Burger King's biggest audiences is the young. Precisely those, some might say, who appreciate this kind of mockery the most.
Of course, no one can be sure Burger King really did shove a Big Mac behind its Whoppers in every single ad. However, Burger King's image is such that no one would be surprised if it really happened. And the winning conceit lies in the witty way the video is executed.
If you're faced with a benign, perhaps even bland, market leader -- and you have confidence in your own product -- you can do a lot worse than mock the leader for its obvious deficiencies.
Then again, as humans physically grow beyond the dimensions of an average Economy Class seat, isn't it better if your burgers aren't too big?
McDonald's has been on a (slight) health kick lately. It's even trying to make Happy Meals marginally healthier.
What if it created a campaign lauding the fact that its Big Mac's really aren't so big?
I'd like to see that.