Whopper Juniors and bullying are hardly two things that your mind would stack next to each other. But Burger king has ensured that you do, thanks to a three-minute video released in honor of National Bullying Prevention month.
The viral video revealed that 95% of customers were willing to report their smashed “bullied” whopper Jr., but only 12% stood up for a high school kid being harassed in the very same store.
The “No Junior Deserves to Be Bullied” segment received nationwide attention, and generate countless shares and views online. According to one blogger:
“Yes, this is basically a three-minute Burger King ad. And, yes, it's not subtle. But this PSA is better than it has a right to be, and is certainly more than you'd expect from a restaurant that doesn't really have an ethical obligation beyond selling burgers . . . this weirdly good anti-bullying PSA will wreck your day.”
Why Certain Messages Go Viral
Whether you are in marketing or politics, you have no doubt wondered why certain videos on YouTube go viral. And this is for good reason; these viral videos get more word-of-mouth attention and top-of-mind awareness. Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, devoted nearly a decade to research and look into this very question, and offers a few thoughts on how to get your ideas to stick and spread like fire.
The stuff we talk about influence the way other people perceive and react to us. Whether we look clever, silly, or thoughtful all comes down to the things that we find compelling enough to talk about. Understanding this can lead to
creating content which other people likeminded people care about enough to share. For example, many who shared the Burger King advert did so because even beyond finding it funny, they thought it offered social commentary which they felt ought to be heard by more people.
People talk about whatever it is they think about. These thoughts are “triggers” and can easily lead to word of mouth virality. Burger King applied this fact to good effect and released this PSA during Bullying Prevention Month, because burgers and bullies where on our minds in October (and therefore at the tip of our tongues).
Is it possible to craft messages that inspire people to feel something? People are conditioned to share things that are surprising, inspiring, funny, beautiful, or motivating. With their PSA, Burger King went straight to the heart of this idea, knowing that people are more likely to share something for which they care.
It’s no coincidence that those Super Bowl commercials are so fun—they tell great stories. Top marketers understand that the best way to pass anything across is to wrap it in noteworthy narrative which other people are bound to repeat. In the case of the Whopper Junior ad, the commodity itself played a supporting role to the overarching story of bullying and social justice. However, according to Jerber’s book, Contagious, the product or idea has to be essential or integral to the plotline for this to work: “We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.”
Create Sticky and Viral Messages
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