Breaking through the clutter is a difficult task for advertising. Burger King Germany created a Grand Theft Auto style campaign to convey freshness and choice. But does it work?
Burger King hired German agency .start to create the Veg City campaign using Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as inspiration. The print, web, and tv campaign uses the same components that made the video game popular (sex, violence, stunning comic book graphics) to communicate the restaurant’s commitment to fresh ingredients and that consumers can wield the power of choice when ordering. However, GTA has a ESRB Mature rating to filter out those that might be offended. Should Burger King do the same?
The first thing to remember is this would never work in America. While GTA: Vice City is still the best selling PS2 game of all time, it came with its share of backlash. Some Americans get upset at people who wear the wrong scarf. However, the German culture is quite different than ours and one has to keep in mind the intended audience when evaluating a campaign.
The first part of the campaign were specially-themed liners put in the food trays when eating indoors. I think the art of the tray liners is remarkable. The color and art direction had me pouring over the ads looking at every detail. That’s when I started noticing some of the subtle things that make the ads funny in a Pulp Fiction kind of way. Hats off to the creative director for not regurgitating the same 50s style family smiling around the table eating hamburgers. They do a great job of breaking through everyday fast food dribble with items so visually appealing you can’t help but pay attention.
The first ad in the series communicates the no colorants message in a great way. Notice the Indiana Jones movie reference and the guy in the top left lowering a firecracker down to his neighbor?
Here the edginess level is raised (lowered?). The caption reads, “Pickle in? Pickle out? Only you decide how you want your burger.”
Notice the grey bearded “old” onion that’s trying to pass as a fresh vegetable using anti-aging cream and Botox. His fear stems from the determined policeman behind him. Branding blog Idea Sandbox breaks down the scene further. Thanks to Brand Autopsy for the link.
For Halloween, the agency pays homage to American horror movies. How many did you notice?
This one is my favorite. The caption reads, “Just say the word and we’ll eliminate the onions from your burgers. Quickly and discreetly.”
The website opens with a Vegas city style sign and fades into a true GTA-style map. Like most interactive ad sites, there are downloads, games, and a backstory. Each part of Veg City has it’s own unique twist on the freshness and choice themes. While I don’t see the point in such useless websites, I do appreciate the art.
The problem I see with this whole campaign is that Burger King is a kid-friendly restaurant. They have playgrounds and kid’s meals with toys. While the TV and website channels are easy to avoid, how do you explain to your six-year old why the onion is so scared of the pickle with the rubber glove?
If these ads were for Hooters or some other non-kid restaurant here in America, do you think they would work?