- Hollis Johnson
- Burger King debuted a new deal that required customers to go to McDonald’s for a one-cent Whopper.
- The promotion is the latest in a long list of bizarre fast-food promotions.
- Past absurd fast-food schemes include IHOP’s name change to IHOb, KFC’s chicken-scented sunscreen, and Domino’s pothole-filling initiative.
Burger King recently announced that if customers go within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location, they could order a Whopper for one cent via the revamped Burger King app. The counterintuitive deal is intended to promote Burger King’s recently relaunched app.
Burger King has a history of bizarre ads and deals. And, it isn’t alone – the fast-food industry has perhaps some of the strangest promotions in the world.
Here are some of the weirdest deals, advertisements, and promotions that fast-food chains have used to win over customers:
Burger King’s Whopper deal
- Hollis Johnson
“If a guest is inside one of these geofenced areas and has the new BK App on their device, the app will unlock the Whopper sandwich for a penny promotion,” Burger King said in a press release. “Once the 1¢ Whopper sandwich order is placed, the user will be ‘detoured’ away from McDonald’s, as the app navigates them to the nearest Burger King restaurant for pick up.”
The Whopper deal started on December 4 and ran through December 12.
Burger King’s obsession with foods that turn your poop green
- Burger King/Facebook
In 2015, Burger King launched a Halloween burger made with a black bun that turned people’s feces a greenish color.
Despite people’s bathroom-related freak-outs, the chain has doubled down on scatological deals, launching the Scary Black Cherry slushie this year. And, many customers reacted with eager anticipation around what color their poop would be after drinking.
Burger King’s Google Home ad that was hacked to say the Whopper is made of a ‘medium-sized child’
- Hollis Johnson
In 2017, Burger King launched a TV ad that triggers people’s Google Homes with the command, “Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
When Business Insider tested the ad, Google Home recited the definition of a Whopper burger from its Wikipedia page. However, someone had edited the Whopper’s Wikipedia page to say that the burger is made of a “medium-sized child,” instead of a beef patty, and that it contains the toxic chemical cyanide.
Burger King edited the Wikipedia entry and won an award at Cannes Lions for the ad.
Taco Bell’s dramatic Lyft partnership
- Courtesy of Taco Bell
In 2017, Taco Bell announced a service that allows Lyft users to push a button to have their driver take them to a Taco Bell drive-thru.
Many Lyft drivers – who found out about the new service at the same time as the rest of the world – were less than pleased. Drivers started airing their grievances with the so-called “Taco Mode” on a driver message board called Uberpeople.net.
“Vomit bags & plastic seat covers for all seats in vehicle. The drunk-circuit shift suddenly became a three-ring circus,” said a San Francisco driver.
KFC’s chicken-scented sunscreen
In 2016, the chicken chain gave away 3,000 free bottles of Colonel Sanders’ Extra Crispy Sunscreen.
“Suntan lotion always smells like lotion,” KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. “So we thought – why not make it smell like fried chicken?”
Domino’s pothole-filling initiative
- Darren Weaver
In June, Domino’s announced a campaign to repair potholes. The company is already working with local governments in Bartonville, Texas; Milford, Delaware; Athens, Georgia; and Burbank, California, to repair roads, filling potholes and stamping the repairs with a Domino’s logo.
“We don’t want to lose any great-tasting pizza to a pothole, ruining a wonderful meal,” Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA, said in a statement. “Domino’s cares too much about its customers and pizza to let that happen.”
IHOP’s name change to IHOb
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
IHOP tapped into the bizarre deals that dominate the burger industry this year. In June, the International House of Pancakes temporarily changed its name to the International House of Burgers, or IHOb.
The move sparked backlash but ultimately drove burger sales at the chain. According to IHOP, hamburger sales quadrupled following the promotion, contributing to a significant lift in lunch and dinner sales.
Denny’s acknowledgement that its mascot resembles ‘a turd’
In 2017, Denny’s took to Twitter to respond to people who said the chain’s sausage mascot looks like something far less savory.
The chain’s Twitter account posted an image of the sausage and a slice of bacon, with the caption “i’m just a sausage… i can’t help the way i look.”
Denny’s sausage mascot has been used in marketing since 2014, when the chain debuted its “Grand Slams” gang of mascots. The mascot’s name is “Sausage” and is distinguished from other sausages (or turds) by his arms, legs, and jaunty hat.