Never before have the “Burger Battles” between global rivals McDonald’s and Burger King been set aside for a greater cause. That could all change on September 21st, when the International Peace Day is celebrated: marketers for Burger King have hatched a plan to generate massive publicity for both fast food chains, without any negative blowback for either company.
With a full-page ad taken out in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, Burger King proposed an unheard of notion to its biggest rival: collaboration.
In a symbolic move that fits the theme of World Peace Day, Burger King has asked McDonald’s to get on-board with a one-day merger of sorts: for an entire day on September 21st, BK wants to offer customers a one-time opportunity to try a McWhopper—as it sounds, a hybrid between the two burger joints’ signature sandwiches.
McDonald’s seemed to be blindsided by the move, as the company’s chief executive intimated that they were not made aware beforehand when he grumbled that he would’ve preferred a simple phone call rather than the full-page ad (in Chicago’s biggest newspaper, no less, as McDonald’s U.S. headquarters is in Illinois) and subsequent wave of headlines. In essence, Burger King made sure that Mickey D’s couldn’t take ownership for the idea (a potentially brilliant one, we must admit), but is all but backed into a corner where it must participate to salvage any of the publicity.
The idea was clearly long in the making, as BK had already mocked up the promotional boxes and logos for the proposed event. The likely site for the one-day-only event will be an impromptu store in Atlanta, which is situated roughly equidistant between the two companies national headquarters in Oak Brook, IL and Miami, FL.
Burger King set up a website for the World Peace Day marketing idea, on which it provides a recipe for the McWhopper. In an act of equitable good faith, the hybrid sandwich would include a half-dozen ingredients from the Big Mac, including special sauce and an all-beef patty, and six ingredients from Burger King’s Whopper, such as a flame-broiled patty. While the even split of contributing ingredients is a prudent move, one expects that McDonald’s will prefer to have some input on the McWhopper recipe.
It’s also worth speculating that a combined McDonald’s-Burger King sandwich may offer some strange (and uncharted) flavor combinations, as consumers have largely developed tastes for one fast food restaurant over the other, even if only through two generations of conditioning.
A portion of the proceeds for the proposed collaboration will go toward the nonprofit organization Peace One Day, which seeks to end global conflict. The International Day of Peace was introduced in 1981 by the United Nations.
Although the statement from McDonald’s in response to the proposal indicated its willingness to participate, its tone was somewhat bitter. This is unsurprising given the home run that Burger King is likely to hit for being the originator of the marketing gimmick. In spite of its bitterness, the statement contained an interesting observation about the World Peace Day cause itself: it pointed out how overblown the use of war imagery in the competition between McDonald’s and Burger King really is, especially in light of the actual war and destruction still present in the world today.
One might be apt to wonder, if McDonald’s and Burger King can put their rivalry aside for a common gesture, couldn’t many of the peoples embroiled in conflict do the same?