When Burger King decided to take on the King of Belgium

If you expected Burger King to cause some public controversy with a potential rival, you’d expect it to be with somebody like McDonalds or maybe even Subway. Chances are you’d never have guessed that such controversy would be with the current King of Belgium, King Phillipe. Bear with us here.

The reigning King of Belgium has been contrasted with Burger King in an online vote, titled Who Is The King, where the flame grilled burger company have decided to pit their fictional, royal brand name against Belgium’s King Philippe.

And the reason for this very odd head-to-head? Ahead of the company’s first Burger King Restaurant being launched in the Western European country, they’ve gone down the route of taking on the country’s King to drum up interest in all things burgers and fries.

As expected, it hasn’t gone down to well with King Philippe and the Royal Family. A spokesman for the Royal Family said that the use of the King's image should have been approved by the Royal Family, but they had not been asked.

On the website, if a user chooses Burger King there were no more prompts and the vote was banked. If a user was to choose Philippe, they were asked "Are you sure? He won't be the one to cook your fries" and following that the only option users were given is "no". A rigged poll if we’ve ever seen one.

A very famous quote springs straight to mind when you think about the whole debacle involving Burger King and King Phillipe of Belgium - “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” This quote springs to mind theory is that as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing. 

Even if they’re saying awful things about you or your company, the publicity is supposed to still be good because your name is on the top of people’s minds, keeping you relevant and this seems to be the tactic that Burger King have gone with ahead of their launch in Belgium.

There’s plenty of examples where being in the limelight for something negative hasn’t worked for a company or a celebrity, take Tiger Woods for example, his career has plummeted since his very public scandal came to light. BP are another, it’s hard to think of one positive that came from them being in the spotlight for the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf? 

But for Burger King it seems to have worked to a certain extent. They’ve helped drum up massive interest and plenty of news features ahead of their rollout in Belgium by upsetting the Royal Family – even if they did have to bring an end to their head-to-head earlier than the projected date.

Following the criticism from the Royal Family, Burger King brought an end to their poll but did reveal that 51% of people who took the time to vote did help secure a narrow win for King Phillipe, with just 49% supporting Burger King.

The campaign was obviously carried out in a humorous manner from Burger King’s perspective – although it wasn’t received that way by the Belgian Royal Family. 

On the back of their defeat to King Phillipe, in the head-to-head poll, Burger King decided to remove the “King” in the company’s logo from the campaign site and the newly launched Burger King Belgium Facebook page. 

We’re not so sure that this is the honourable thing to do after upsetting the Royal’s but it’s helped prolong their campaign and drum up even further interest – another smart move if we do say so. 
Plans to open their restaurants in Belgium are still going ahead, so the controversy clearly hasn’t put them off. One thing we’re eager to see is whether Burger King is brave enough to put their new King-less logo onto the signage of their new batch of Belgian restaurants. 

In doing so they would once again be drumming interest in their King versus King campaign. If the restaurants were adorned with the King-less logo new customers would surely be inclined to find out why the restaurants have such logo. 

It’s certainly one to keep an eye out for and who knows; maybe they could get King Phillipe and the family down to help launch the restaurants. After all the people of Belgium backed their King, so maybe he should bask in his victory whilst enjoying a whopper meal on the house.

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