Coq Roq: The Fictional Burger King Band That Caused Multiple Lawsuits

Isn't it a bit weird that some restaurants have had their own bands? We're not talking about a café with a real in-house band or even Chuck E. Cheese and its animatronic rock band. Instead, we're talking about restaurants that, for whatever reason, decided to have their own fictional bands to promote their products. In the 1970s, for example, McDonald's briefly toyed with the idea of Ronald McDonald leading a swing band that seemed more or less a fusion of early vaudeville, slapstick, and the showmanship of Cab Calloway (via YouTube). But perhaps the most notable example of fast-food executives hitting up record labels is Burger King's "unconventional" promotion for its chicken fries in 2005: one that involves chicken masks, heavy metal, and lots of copyright infringement lawsuits.

If you don't remember Coq Roq (and before you ask, it's exactly what it sounds like), that's forgivable, considering the band briefly existed in and around the timeframe of 2004 to 2005. According to Tom Zukoski, who claims to have helped put Coq Roq together, this fictional heavy metal band not only recorded a 4-song LP and two music videos, but almost went on a national tour — stopped only by the fact the lead singer couldn't leave his native Canada due to criminal charges. Think of this as The King meeting Spinal Tap.

Of course, not everyone in the heavy metal scene was eager to welcome Coq Roq into the industry, and not just because they were backed by a corporate sponsor. 

Slipknot sued Burger King for copyright infringement

If there's one thing heavy metal is against, it's the establishment. As any metalhead will tell you, heavy metal and anarchy go hand-in-hand. Yet it seems that when it comes to copyright infringement, even the industry built on rebellion and shock must take a stand. 

As The Takeout explains, it was in 2005 when the heavy metal band Slipknot brought a lawsuit against Burger King, viewing Coq Roq's chicken-masked performers as being a rip-off of its own masked style. An excerpt from a letter written by Slipknot's lawyers published in The Smoking Gun reads that several mask styles are incredibly similar to those worn by the band, ranging from gas masks to kabuki masks. Burger King, Slipknot argued, was stealing their image to promote its products.

In a shocking rebuttal, Burger King claimed that Coq Roq was not stealing from Slipknot, but instead following the traditions of metal bands and performers like Gwar, KISS, Mudvayne, Insane Clown Posse, and Marylin Manson (via Loudwire). Burger King's surprisingly encyclopedic knowledge on the world of heavy metal seemed to quell Slipknot and the lawsuit never progressed further. Coq Roq, which has been lost to the obscure parts of Burger King history, still has a Vimeo containing all four of its songs if you need a bit of greasy grunge for your morning playlist.

Who knows? Perhaps one day McDonald's will take note of Burger King and hire Insane Clown Posse to promote a new burger.