Does Burger King's Facebook 'Whopper Sacrifice' Go Too Far?

Last Updated Jan 9, 2009 6:31 PM EST

Burger King's latest advertising stunt has gotten even more attention than its $3.99 burger-scented body spray. If you delete 10 of your Facebook friends using the "Whopper Sacrifice" application, you get a coupon for a free Whopper -- and your ex-friends get notifications letting them know what you've done and why.

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with my BNET co-blogger Dan Mitchell, who called the campaign "obnoxious" and "puerile" over at his other blog. "Are people really this lustful for a substandard, mass-produced, $2 hamburger?" he asked.

I think it's pretty hilarious and brilliant. The idea is so ridiculous that people hear about it and immediately want to tell someone else, whether or not they participate. My Facebook friends have been joking around about sacrificing each other all day.

And you don't actually need to make your friends hate you; the loophole is obvious. You de-friend ten people, entertain them with the "So-and-so has de-friended you for a free Whopper" notification, get your Whopper coupon, and then add your Facebook friends back the next day.

(Roy Pereira at Refresh Partners, one of the companies behind the Whopper Sacrifice campaign, confirmed in an email today that "users can always 'refriend' their sacrificed users." But, he warned, "they won't be able to 'sacrifice' those friends again (ever)." A moot point, since users are limited to one free Whopper Sacrifice coupon anyway.)

I'd be willing to bet that some users will go with some of those same de-friended, re-friended friends to cash in their coupons at Burger King, where they'll also spend money on fries and a drink to go along with their free Whoppers. Others won't play the game, but they'll still tell people how stupid it is or write about it on their blog, thus giving Burger King free publicity. Either way, Burger King wins.

Most branded Facebook applications fail because they don't do anything entertaining. Nobody's interested in which multi-national corporations their friends become fans of, or what kind of pizza their friends ordered that day. But people waste unfathomable amounts of time on Facebook teasing each other, sending each other goofy virtual gifts, and otherwise trying to be amusing or annoying. In that sense, sacrificing someone could almost be like an extension of the "super-poke," only instead of saying something like, "So-and-so gave you a bowl of chicken soup," it says, "So-and-so sacrificed you for a free Whopper." Wacky! Hilarious! Or at least a great way to pass the time when you really should be doing something else.

And people are definitely doing it -- according to the tally on the Whopper Sacrifice site, another four thousand Facebook friends have been sacrificed just in the time I've spent writing this post.

  • Katherine Glover