Burger King 'Webisodes' Aim for Whopper of Laughs

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Burger King is running a series of "webisodes," 30- to 45-second Flash animations, on Burgerking.com that tell the story of a burger-loving character named Phil.

The brand-building venture links with the Miami-based restaurant chain's new television advertising campaign, targeting the primary consumers of its Whopper sandwich: 18- to 34-year-olds.

The three-part, tongue-in-cheek series ties in with "The Whopper Says" ads, two 30-second TV spots highlighting the desirability of the Whopper sandwich. One TV spot depicts three 20-somethings eating Whoppers at home. When one man gets up to get napkins, his buddies eat his meal. Viewers hear a voiceover at the end of the commercial: "The Whopper Says: 'Any food left unattended is community property.'"

Equity Marketing, Los Angeles, a full-service marketing and promotions company, developed the corresponding webisodes.

"If you look at the current TV ad, it's a very strong campaign to really move away from what their traditional campaign was in the past," said Valen Watson, producer at Equity Interactive, a division of Equity Marketing. "They really do target that demographic, and the webisodes have a way of being even more irreverent."

The first webisode debuted May 21 with the second following a week later. The final webisode begins running today. The webisodes feature a cartoon image and audio of Phil, who is "dedicated to the pursuit of great flame-broiled taste." In the first webisode, the irreverent Phil insults his date, then she leaves the table, abandoning her Whopper value meal. Phil says he got her to "give it up," and "The Whopper Says: Get the Goods."

"It's a brand-building, entertainment vehicle for the Web. Hopefully, consumers will have a laugh," said Cindy Syracuse, director of interactive and adult promotions for Burger King.

Though the webisodes are not supported by online or offline advertising, a viral component encourages viewers to e-mail the link to friends.

"It's a tongue-in-cheek e-mail about, 'How about we meet Phil for lunch?'" Syracuse said.

However, Burger King is not collecting e-mail addresses from the viral campaign, nor does it maintain an e-mail database.

"It's not a promotional tactic we need," Syracuse said. "My strategy is not to get you back online, and you most likely know how to get to your local Burger King."

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