This Burger King Ad Campaign Was So Sadistic, Facebook Shut It Down

Fast food giant Burger King may have managed to retain its popularity over the years with its beloved Whopper and fries, but that doesn't mean the brand hasn't witnessed its fair share of controversies. For example, in 2019, the brand got a little dystopic when it tweeted about a raffle to help a few lucky students pay off their debts. GQ gave credit to the brand for the initiative, but reminded everyone that this was still just an advertising stunt aimed at getting people to eat Burger King's food, use their app, and help increase profit margins as opposed to actually dealing with the country's student debt crisis in a constructive manner.

Another controversial Burger King ad campaign? The brand came up with a marketing campaign on Facebook that was so ruthless, it was called out as hurtful and sadistic by many users. Don't believe it was really that bad? Read on for more details about what actually transpired. 

People were being hurt thanks to BK's cruel Facebook campaign

In 2009, according to CNET, Burger King devised a campaign called "Whopper Sacrifice" for its fans on Facebook. The ad campaign basically enticed users by offering a free coupon for a complimentary burger, as long as they deleted ten people from their friends list on the social media platform. Users who were caught in the eye of the storm would receive notifications as well, letting them know they "were worth less than one-tenth of a Whopper."

The campaign did work, and the Facebook application used to participate was downloaded around 60,000 times in a few days, with almost 20,000 coupons gifted. Facebook wasn't pleased, though. The website banned the campaign from its platform after just ten days, stating that the ad campaign violated their users' privacy. Matt Walsh, the then head of Interaction Design at ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, told an audience at Web 2.0 Expo that the campaign worked because it was so straightforward. "It's a very, very simple idea," he said. "And it's something that to a user is a very easy message to communicate. Sacrifice ten of your friends, get a free Whopper. It's got kind of the ultimate elevator pitch." Walsh did, however, admit that not everyone was pleased with the promotion. "Some people thought it was a little brutal," Walsh stated about the decision to send notifications to those who were "sacrificed."