Do You Want Fries With That? 6 Steps For Going “Viral” (aka Someone take away my social media license, I just used the term “viral”)


The Big Mac. The Whopper. Two titans of the burger industry. Never has there been a bigger rivalry – two warring peoples living in one great nation. Will the war ever end?

That’s the question Burger King posed this week to competitor and reigning burger giant, McDonalds.

It was about the burgers…but not really. Really, it was about getting Burger King on the tongues of America (pun intended). So how did they “go viral?”

Believe it or not, I can tell you exactly how they did it: they created content and a storyline people wanted to share. Then people did share it. Then people shared their thoughts on it. Then people shared those thoughts. Etc.

So how can your brand do that?

1. Be Bold (aka share-worthy)

Let me be the one to break it to you – your new product launch is not going to break the Internet. Sorry, Apple. I’m looking at you.

Sharable content is so much more about what your consumer wants to share than it is what you want to share with them. Finding that intersection is where the magic happens.

Burger King chose to “call out” their number one competitor (yes, I know that the Chipotles and Paneras of the world are quickly eating up market share, but let’s leave that for another time), but in an unexpected way. They called them out to join forces. Unexpected. Interesting concept. And appeals to pure morbid curiosity about what a McWhopper would taste like.

2. Have a bigger purpose

So, it can’t just be about your product. Check. But what is the bigger rallying cry? What is the human insight? What is that bigger “thing” that you can use your big bad corporate money to help fix?

Burger King centered its efforts around World Peace Day. This was smart, in part, because it’s super non-controversial and yet really hard to participate in. BK, in theory, gave people a way to join in.

get involved

3. Be everywhere

Hit the streets and the Internet hard and fast. At go-time have your ducks in a row and ready to move. Yes, I said the streets. To truly be seen by “everyone,” real life and online must merge.

Burger King did a solid job of this by working with online influencers, buying media, earning coverage and really committing to the idea on their owned channels.

Don’t be fooled. This. Takes. Money. Yes, you can luck into a great cat video but unless you have awesome light saber skills, budgeting for the initial groundswell is the only way to ensure that you are being seen beyond the echo chamber of your own circle (i.e. client, agency, friends, family).

Burger King also made it INCREDIBLY easy to share the content that they have created for their owned channels. Every single aspect (from the videos to the uniform mock ups) had their own share buttons. Like I said, “viral” is merely a product of mass sharing.

4. No really, everywhere

Yes, this is the age of new media, but as the Girl Scouts taught us, make new friends, but keep the old. Don’t underestimate the power of paid print media. Especially as icing on the cake.

I am always a fan of on open letter and this one did not disappoint.

open letter

5. Think of everything

If people are going to take you seriously, you have to make it as realistic as possible. Even if it has “stunt” written all over it (like this did), if you think through all of the logistics, people will take you more seriously.

BK did a great job of showing everyone that they thought this through.


6. Get the right buy-in

Mickey Dee’s didn’t seem to think that Burger King was taking World Peace Day seriously enough. But that’s kind of funny, because Jeremy Gilley, the CEO of Peace One Day seemed to think it was a great idea.

By getting buy-in from someone with real street cred, Burger King had the insurance that their efforts weren’t seen solely a flippant PR stunt…

So when your client says they want to “go viral,” don’t let them be fooled. Explain the process…and then ask them if their cat is available for keyboard lessons.


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