Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Whopper of a Flummox

Cute idea, I think. But I'm not sure I'm glad they followed through with it. And then to hear how they flummoxed the whole online thing, well, as a net-head, I'm somewhat shocked, almost even appalled.

I'm writing of course about the infamous Whopper Virginssssss campaign. The idea was to do a burger taste test with people who had never had neither Whopper nor Big Mac. A taste test, in fact, with people who had never even heard of a 'hamburger'. So called 'Whopper Virgins'.

Coming from a background in usability and research, I think the idea of doing a taste test with such a 'pure' subject pool is at least cute. And while the experimental setup may have been a tad flawed (e.g. they had a portable Whopper grill, but nothing similar for a Big Mac, and from the video it did not appear all comparisons were made with comparable sandwiches), the testing was done via a presumably (it was sponsored by Burger King) impartial independent group. All in all, cute. But I have two 'buts'.

My first big but is that, while their test may be pure, they have now poisoned (in a number of ways) some previously less-tainted peoples. While there was some gastrio-cultural exchange, I doubt the 'virgins' got the better end of the deal.

My second big but is that, according to yet another good article by AdAge, Burger King blew the internetation of the campaign. For instance, search for 'Whopper Virgin' (sans 's'), and no Burger King turns up in the results. Indeed they report that the number of searches for Whopper Virgins and Whopper Virgin where just about equal. That means that half the folks had problems finding the supposedly viral campaign - just because of a single letter.

Well, what do you think?

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