Burger King’s mouldy Whopper: Brave or an ad industry in-joke?

Burger King caused a stir with the launch of its global campaign that features its prized Whopper burger decaying over a 34-day time frame. The message is clear, the brand is removing artificial preservatives from its signature burger.

This ad breaks all the rules of meal promotion, which for the most part includes beautifully-shot items set up by stylists.

The ad has gained split opinions.


  • The brand knows that people think of it as second to McDonald’s, it is bold, irreverent and has learned to be fearless in order to carve out its own identity
  • People like to know that what they are eating is natural. They applaud the transparency the brand has employed. All food goes off. All food should go off. That’s not nauseating, it’s reassuring.
  • This was no doubt risky but when you are striving for talk-ability and distinction, risk can be good for the brand
  • The creative is a fearless, striking and challenging approach to the discussion on zero preservatives
  • The brand has been recently building a disruptive brand personality and this ad fits perfectly in that context. It’s a subtle attack on McDonald’s and their picture perfect burger ads, the ones that never appear to be same in real life.



  • Most individuals will see only a decaying burger, not the bigger narrative and finally this is all that will stay in front of mind.
  • The last thing any food chain wants is for the image of its usually visually appealing and appetising burger to suddenly be etched into the minds of their potential consumer as dark and decaying.
  • Yum beats yuck- Some people don’t think it’s in the brand’s best interest to associate themselves with rot and decay.


But has it finally gone too far with ‘The Mouldy Whopper?’

This ad wasn’t made to sell, it was a stunt to get PR. It is bold, eye-catching and unexpected and thus clearly meets its objective.

Regardless of your opinion, one can’t deny that the campaign has caused a strong emotional reaction. This is what most brands neglect- dividing people can be a win. Debate. Conversation. Attention.


Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/burger-king-portrays-moldy-whopper-in-new-tv-ad-2020-02-20

Bitly: https://on.mktw.net/2Vnq6Bc

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