Burger King has a long history of mocking their rivals at every opportunity. In the last 12 months alone, the world’s most famous flame-grillers have stolen McDonald’s copyright on the Big Mac, created an app that allows their customers to “set fire” to rival advertisements and even given the public a massive discount if they order Burger King from within a competitor restaurant. When it comes to advertising, they tend not to pull any punches.
Given this record, it should come as no surprise to learn that the burger giant’s latest initiative features yet another sly dig at their golden-arched nemesis, whilst simultaneously tackling an extremely serious issue. As part of a plan to raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month, the chain have launched a new range of “moody” meals, focused on highlighting how people can feel a range of emotions beyond permanent unconditional happiness. This is obviously a not-so-subtle critique of McDonald’s own signature kids’ menu item.
The new range, collectively known as “Real Meals”, which include the Pissed Meal, Blue Meal, Salty Meal, Yaaas Meal and DGAF (Don’t Give a F---) Meal, will be available throughout May, and all come complete with a Whopper sandwich, French fries and a drink. Accompanying the new campaign was a video of people in various emotional states, featuring the tagline, “No one is happy all the time. And that’s OK.”
In an online release made available on Wednesday, the company wrote that “Burger King restaurants understands that no one is happy all the time. That’s why they’re asking guests to order a Whopper meal based on however they might be feeling.” They went on to claim that the new campaign and accompanying commercial provide an “intimate and raw look into the reality of feeling your way.”
In order to implement the new initiative, Burger King joined forces with national organisation Mental Health America. Speaking to reporters about the new collaboration, MHA chief executive Paul Gionfriddo said, “While not everyone would think about pairing fast food and mental health, MHA believes in elevating the conversation in all communities in order to address mental illness Before Stage 4 (when someone has severe symptoms). By using its internationally-known reputation to discuss the importance of mental health, Burger King is bringing much-needed awareness to this important and critical discussion — and letting its customers know that is OK to not be OK.”
Whilst raising awareness of the underlying issues associated with mental health is incredibly important, there remain questions over how sensitive using serious conditions to troll a rival actually is. Several critics have already called the content of the campaign insensitive. Nonetheless, given our collective issues with mental health, putting our concerns into the public consciousness by any means necessary has to broadly be a good thing. There has been no official response yet from McDonald's, though it seems reasonable to suggest that they won't be best pleased with Burger King's latest initiative.