In the US this summer Burger King trolled it’s rival McDonalds brilliantly by offering a Whopper for a penny to anyone who was in or very near to a McDonalds restaurant.

A brilliant idea that delivered outstanding result – mobile sales were up 300%, app downloads went from no.686 to no.1 across iOS and Android, and it drove the highest footfall for 4.5 years – but what is most impressive about the campaign is that it shows how marketing and technology should be working together.

In my head this is how the campaign originated:

CMO – ‘That darn McDonalds is stealing share again – we need to do something about it’

Brand Manager – ‘Yeah, if only we could get them to download our app – that would get them to choose us more often’

Agency – Wouldn’t it be great if we could steal those customers, just as they are about to order their Big Mac. With a great offer I’m sure we could get them to download our app and send them on a ‘Detour’

Tech guy: We could actually do that by adding some existing geofencing technology to our stack. I’ll build a prototype and investigate the possibilities.

CEO (post campaign): Wow, great work – our investment in technology is really paying off.

I have no idea if that is how the campaign came to life – but I’m certain that we would never have seen the idea if the BK team had adopted a more common response. Something a bit like this?:

CMO – ‘That darn McDonalds is stealing share again – we need to do something about it’

Brand Manager – ‘Yeah, if only we could get them to download our app – that would get them to choose us more often’

Agency – Wouldn’t it be great if we could steal those customers, just as they are about to order their Big Mac. With a great offer I’m sure we could get them to download our app and send them on a ‘Detour’

Brand Manager – Nice idea – I doubt we could deliver it, or get the budget.  I don’t really like to interrupt the tech team – but i’ll try.

Tech guy: (exasperated sigh) I don’t have time to even think about it. I suspect it is possible – but the earliest I could deliver it would be summer 2021 – it’s not currently part of our tech roadmap and don’t get me started on resource…

Brand Manager: Yeah thought so – shame.  I wonder if we could outsource it?

Procurement: There is no budget for this.  We’ve just spent it all on a new Marketing Cloud platform.  Oh…and have you thought about information security – if you did outsource it?

Information Security: No, just no.

Brand Manager: I really must find out more about that Marketing Cloud platform.  But, for now, I’ll just run some ads and send some emails with a really deep offer

CEO:  When am I going to see some payback from all the investment in marketing technology…

Here’s hoping that success stories like Burger King’s will encourage more brands to embrace tech based ideas and prove that it is possible to demonstrate a positive return on tech investment.