Friendship is strong, but the Whopper is stronger.
I'm not sure if this was an advertising tagline, created by Crispin, Porter & Bogusky for Burger King (let's call it "integrated" for now) or specifically designed for a Facebook app. Either way, it became the basis for a much discussed Facebook App where Facebook users got to "sacrifice" their friends (sort the wheat from the chaff) in exchange for a Whopper...
Said "friends" would then be notified that they had been sacrificed.
And here's where it goes pear shaped: Facebook objects to this as it violates a term/condition of their user agreement i.e. explicitly informing people that they have been removed as a friend (think creepy middle-aged guy in relation to young, smoking-hot female employee)
Facebook removes the alert notification and BK promptly "sacrifices" (nice spin) their Application...and in doing so, remains "true to themselves".
There are probably 4 angles to this story:
- Where did it go wrong? (or did it go wrong at all)
- How could it have gone "more right"?
- Did it work?
- What does this teach us?
I guess the real stories here are about collaboration and the more category-specific one: debating the role for social networking as a utility platform (amongst other roles) versus advertising vehicle.
Had CP+B/BK worked with Facebook at all (let alone more closely), perhaps the outcome would have been very different. Or not. Had Facebook "sacrificed" its subscriber terms (philosophy), arguably the loss might have been far greater than just a few friends.
Put differently, this story is somewhat of a fork in the road if you think about it: a seminal moment which paves the way for Facebook and Madison Avenue to determine:
a) whether Facebook remains a free resource for brands to loot and pillage at will
b) whether Facebook is an ad vehicle/media platform....or not
It should be acknowledged that the overall reaction to this program has been fairly positive (am I wrong?) In addition, with 82,000 participants and over 230,000 friends "removed" - not to mention plenty of buzz - it's hard to knock the fact this program struck a chord.
Of course, that chord could have been a giant flat note (to keep the metaphor going) This whole initiative just doesn't sit right in my stomach (kind of like a Whopper) From a strategic standpoint, anything overt that decreases Facebook's membership (audience) base is clearly not good for business. It also flies in the face of WHY people are using Facebook in the first place.
I'm not sure if this is too extreme a point, but one might make the argument that this is even more consumer UNCENTRIC than 30-second spots...
Perhaps had there been a way to reward the culled friends i.e. the ability (like in a reality show) to get back in the game...call it the Benie Madoff move (a revenge-based Ponzi Jedi mindtrick), it might have been a little more playful (if that's even possible).
Bottom line: This "app" broke through the clutter, but at what price? Speaking of price, for the next Hacker movie, would Facebook simulate a giant hack and fake a bunch of membership accounts being taken over? No doubt, your immediate reaction would "NO WAY, JOSE," but could this be possible? What if Facebook creates two tiers of pricing for users? Free = implicit permission for marketing shenanegans Fee = Leave us the hell alone.
What are your thoughts on what this means for future (customized) brand efforts on Facebook and similar SocNet platforms?
And then there's the subject of this post: Are Facebook Apps becoming the New Viral Video? Does resorting to stunts, extreme surprises and guerrilla or unexpected tactics become an input or output (or both) in terms of ante up?
I surely hope they'll resemble less of these kinds of efforts and more like what Kraft is doing with respect to deploying a cause marketing angle.
You should know: crayon consults with both Kraft and Facebook, but not yet Burger King or CP+B...call me! :)