The Internet Is Furious About Burger King's Newest Ad Campaign. Here's Why

"Hey, have you already thought about the mini shake at Burger King for $1 dollar?" says a bot to a player on the live-streaming platform, Twitch. "You're making me hungry if that's the point you're trying to make," replies the player in question. "You can get 40 piece chicken nuggets for under five dollars. Is that real?" exclaims another player. It's the latest Burger King advertising flop, forever memorialized in a Twitter video that has racked up over 1.2 million views and the collective wrath of the Twitchverse, to date.

Confused? We'll start at the beginning. Between 1927 and 1951, cigarettes became cool when Hollywood and big tobacco partnered, and, amid hazes of tobacco smoke, stars crooned about the flavors of cigarettes (via New Scientist). Today's marketing equivalent is player sponsorships on streaming platforms (via Screen Rant). In return for sponsorships, popular gamers, using platforms like Twitch, promote products while live-streaming their escapades (in games like League of Legends, Minecraft, and Call of Duty) to thousands of viewers (via Twitch Metrics). 

In July 2020, Burger King got in on the Twitch pie (via AdAge). But instead of going the traditional, sponsorship route, the company (through the Ogilvy-owned agency, David Madrid) made use of a feature designed for fans. In return for small donations, fans interact with players in the midst of a live stream, asking questions or commenting (via BBC). That's what Burger King did. But instead of asking questions, it used the airspace to advertise Burger King products.

Why the Twitch community thinks Burger King's campaign was 'guerrilla warfare'

Ogilvy published the now-infamous Twitter video in question, and they clearly cut out less favorable player responses. Twitch player Ross O'Donovan (i.e. @RubberNinja) tweeted in response, "I guess they didn't want to use my clips because I said, 'Oh I worked for you guys in Australia at Hungry Jacks ... Hated it.'" 

Less than favorable reactions are not the primary reason that ad-campaign flopped. For one, the account that Ogilvy used to make the donations, "THE_KING_OF_STREAM," was nowhere labeled as an official sponsors account (via ars Technica). That put streamers in a tricky situation that broke protocol. "For Burger King to essentially do guerrilla warfare puts us in a weird spot because we're not disclosing to our viewers that it's an advertisement — because we didn't know," explained Ross O'Donovan to BBC.

Then there's the fact that Twitch gamers often rely on sponsors to make a living. By donating $5.00 or under to players with big followings, Burger King made use of their influencer status for pennies. As Twitch player @AnneMunition tweeted, "I really despise when companies take advantage of my live content in order to push their ads without clearing it with me first or offering what I should be paid for the marketing, which is more than $5 I'm pretty sure." 

BBC reached out to Burger King, but the company has yet to comment on the fiasco.