When we realized that the most famous horror clown of all time – Pennywise from Stephen King’s “IT” – would return to cinemas in September 2017, we saw an opportunity. Because McDonald’s mascot Ronald happens to be a clown as well. So we used the international hype around the horror film of the year to spread a clear message. A message that turned “It” into BURGER KING’s longest PR ad ever. Even though we hijacked just a single screening, the message spread far wider and became an international PR topic that generated buzz across the globe.
On the evening of the German pre-premiere of Stephen King’s horror classic “IT”, we let the clown spread fear and horror until the audience had enough. Right when the credits were about to roll, we hijacked the movie with two powerful spotlights to project our message onto the silver screen. Turning the horror movie of the year into the worlds longest in-cinema ad. In addition, we used our stunt to warn the audience and everyone who watched our viral video later about creepy clowns and thereby indirectly about our biggest competitor – without naming them once.
As the video of our stunt went viral, we managed to generate a worldwide buzz and a change in awareness. Within just 72 hours, LOVING “IT” achieved over 900 million impressions and press coverage on 5 continents, earning 10 million Euros in media value. On social media, the online film generated over 12 million impressions making it BURGER KING Germany’s most liked, shared and commented PR ad to date.
Our PR stunt focused on the typical BURGER KING target group (men in the age of 18-30). The key performance indicator of ad awareness in this target group raised by +4% within a week.
Always in second place on the fast food market, BURGER KING is constantly looking for buzz-generating ways to win over their rival’s customers. With our LOVING “IT” PR stunt we used a major pop-cultural opportunity and turned the horror film of the year into a new form of advertising. By linking our competitor’s mascot to a horror character, we started a worldwide conversation about clowns, with the stunt being covered in nearly every medium.
We wanted to use an innovative, cost-efficient PR stunt people would talk about to push back against our main competitor and their iconic clown. And we wanted to keep it in BURGER KING’S usual bold tone. The perfect opportunity: The release of “IT”, a movie highly anticipated by our target audience.