The Deconstructed Brief



Campaign: “Whopper Donut”

Brand: Burger King

Agency: DAVID




Innovative donut flavors and fillings top lists of popular food trends, with savory flavors like bacon and bourbon rising in popularity alongside sweet varieties.

Culinary professionals are using donuts as a substitute for bread, buns and even nachos to create dishes like “The Doughnut” at The Cookery in New York — a basic glazed donut filled with smoked pig’s head, barbecue onion, basil and a spicy maple dressing. Tim Hortons celebrated its sesquicentennial with the Poutine Donut — a donut topped with potato wedges, gravy and cheese curds — and popular donut sandwiches run the gamut with their contents, ranging from fried chicken to crab cakes.

If professional chefs can create these confections, why not Burger King?


In honor of National Donut Day, Burger King created the ‘Whopper Donut’ — a Whopper with the middle removed and served on the side as a mini donut. Consumers can learn how to make the signature meal via an instructional BuzzFeed Tasty video. Each product comes in its own custom orange and purple packaging that highlights the occasion; the donut only available at five locations across the country.

Burger King capitalized on the popularity of ‘national days’ and their intrinsic role in brands’ social media calendars. Consumers expect brands’ participation in these pseudo-holidays — free coffee on National Coffee Day and discounted ice cream on National Ice Cream Day — and, in return, brands expect an increase in engagement and sales. Burger King saw an opportunity to create an unexpected advertisement that played perfectly with its desire to toe the line of possibility. Popular websites, such as FOX News, People and Eater, covered the product hours after its launch, and search results for the product surpassed the million mark in less than 24 hours.

Key insight

Don’t tell us we can’t.


Lessons to be learned

  • Do something. — Impactful advertising answers the challenge to create something tangible in the real world. A physical representation or manifestation of the brand in real life creates a connection different than an online interaction — both valid, but with different intentions and objectives. Numerous brands have taken to creating shoes — Reese’s and Pizza Hut — entire clothing lines — Starburst, Taco Bell, Doritos — or any number of ostentatious implementations  — Hidden Valley Ranch; however, Burger King takes this to an extreme by doing things like burning its restaurants or costuming entire stores. The earned media returns negate the costs required to actualize the creative.
  • Make it yours. — Burger King had no stake in National Donut Day and could have easily relegated its comments to National Hamburger Day (May 28) or waited for National French Fry Day (July 13); however, this would have passed unnoticed amid an online laundry list article describing the deals of the day. Capitalizing on this opportunity allowed Burger King to hijack the day and create the unexpected to earn widespread publicity.
  • Why so serious? — The company maintains no illusions about its voice and identity: Fast food serves as an indulgent escape for American consumers who want something fun and playful. The brand understands its role and designs its marketing according to these self-defined values. The simplicity of the campaign allows everyone to participate in the joke — the brand included. Burger King’s candor about its advertisement creates a clever campaign, capable of attracting skeptical 20- and 30-somethings who see themselves as beyond marketing.