In 2009, Which Company’s Ill-Fated Advertising Campaign Had People Trading Facebook Friends For Coupons?
Answer: Burger King
In 2009, Burger King ran a social media advertising campaign centered on Facebook. The campaign, known as the “Whopper Sacrifice”, hinged on a simple premise: you had to “sacrifice” ten of your Facebook friends in exchange for a coupon for a free Whopper burger.
Over 23,000 people took them up on the offer (which works out to around 230,000 defriended Facebook users) before Facebook put a halt to the operation. While Facebook’s principal complaint was that the way the Burger King app delivered notifications (each time you defriended someone, the app would send them a message indicating that they had been defriended for a burger) violated Facebook privacy policies (notifications of defriending are a no-no), in reality, it was that plus the negative press the whole event drummed up. If Facebook is supposed to be a tool for connecting with friends and family, a tool that encourages you to defriend a bunch of people in exchange for a free burger is bad press.
That wasn’t the end of quirky social media forays for the brand, however. In early 2014, the Norwegian division of Burger King launched a Facebook-driven campaign encouraging people to, of all things, unlike them on Facebook if they weren’t loyal Burger King fans. Fans who bailed on the brand and declared themselves “Whopper sellouts” were sent a coupon for a McDonald’s Big Mac. Although the stunt seemed rather dubious, the social media managers for the brand declared it a success since the remaining fans interacted with Burger King’s Facebook page at a much higher rate.