When you work in an industry as competitive as fast food, things can sometimes get ugly. For decades, the big names of junk have spent almost as much time slagging each other off as they have cooking. Expertise in everything from gentle needling, to full on shit-housery have become a prerequisite for anyone looking for a job in the sector. It’s like Game of Thrones, but more delicious.
However, even by the standards of an industry where competitors have been known to take out entire Super Bowl slots for trolling, the latest move by Burger King must rank as one of the most audacious - and hilarious - ever. Thanks to a legal loophole, the company may well have stumbled across the next phase in an escalating fast food arms race.
In Sweden, where citizens are generally known for their good nature and affability, the world famous franchise has unleashed a campaign, renaming all of its burgers after Big Macs, in some of the least flattering ways imaginable. In a new commercial, customers can be seen agonising over a choice between “The Burger the Big Mac wished it was” and “Like a Big Mac, but actually big”. Other options include “Kind of Like a Big Mac But Juicier and Tastier”, and “Big Mac-ish But Flame-Grilled of Course.” Whether you can actually throw shade in a food fight remains up for debate. But, if you can, it would probably look like this.
The situation stems from an ill-advised European lawsuit filed by the Golden Arches at the start of last year. The business attempted to sue small Irish fast food business “Supermacs” - set up by an ex-Gaelic football star - over the use of the appendage “Mac”. It was a case that the behemoth brand expected to be a walk over. However, much to their embarrassment, the European Union Intellectual Property Office not only found in Supermacs’ favour, but also ruled that the “Big Mac” trademark should be cancelled, paving the way for a Supermacs expansion. It also allowed Burger King to add salt to the wound.
As a direct result of the ruling, Burger King have been able to legally get away with the seriously irreverent ad currently going viral across the internet. Speaking about the new release, Iwo Zakowski, CEO of Burger King’s Swedish operation, stated, “McDonald’s just lost its trademark for the Big Mac for suing a much smaller player … it’s too much fun for us to stay away.”
This move is just the latest in a long history of bad blood between the corporate burger giants. At the end of last year, for instance, Burger King ran a promotion offering customers a 1¢ Whopper burger - provided that they ordered it online in the immediate vicinity of a McDonald’s restaurant. As cheeky as that campaign undoubtedly was, this move has upped the ante to a whole new level.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, the McDonald’s response will be. Whatever the impact, the franchise remain the biggest fast food franchise on the planet - with almost three times more outlets than their competitor. However, if saving face is as important as grilling burgers, some sort of comeback might be in order. This level of insult surely can’t be allowed to stand.