Burger King's 'Subservient Chicken' Marketing Campaign

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG233 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Marketing Communications / Branding / Advertising and Promotions
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 2003-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Burger King Corporation
Industry : Fast Food
Countries : US


This case is about US-based fast food giant Burger King Corporation's (Burger King) 'Subservient Chicken' campaign that was launched to promote its TenderCrisp chicken sandwiches, in April 2004. The campaign was launched with the aim of arresting the company's decline in sales and regaining the market share that it had lost to competitors such as McDonald's Corporation and Wendy's International Inc. The main part of the campaign was the viral marketing component. It was backed by other promotional elements such as TV advertisements, print, online ads, and one time pay-per view program. The campaign generated a lot of buzz among the target consumers consisting of a young net savvy population and quickly spread through word-of-mouth marketing.

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It was considered by experts as an iconic viral marketing campaign that helped Burger King revive its brand image and resulted in an increase in the sales of its burgers. But some critics opined that though it was a very good viral marketing campaign, it did not link back to the Burger King brand and so failed to drive business for Burger King.


Understand the issues and challenges in launching a viral marketing campaign.

Analyze the 'Subservient Chicken' marketing campaign.

In the context of the case study, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a viral marketing campaign.

Understand the increasing importance of viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing in marketing a product.

Explore ways in which the company could have made the 'Subservient Chicken' campaign more effective.


  Page No.
Happy Fifth Birthday, Subservient Chicken! 1
About Burger King 2
Burger King's Earlier Marketing Campaigns 4
The Challenge 5
The 'Subservient Chicken' Campaign 7
Initial Reactions 10
The Results 11
Looking Ahead 13
Exhibits 14


Advertising, Promotion, Marketing communication, Viral marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing, Brand awareness, Innovation, Branding, Brand image, Fast food industry, Quick-Service Restaurants, Subservient Chicken Campaign, Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's

Happy Fifth Birthday, Subservient Chicken! - Next Page>>

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