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Would You Like a Whopper with Your Traffic Jam?

A new advertising campaign from Burger King in Mexico City might portend the future of in-car mobile marketing.

A Whopper for Your Traffic Troubles?

We have all been there. You are sitting there on the highway. You are surrounded by a sea of other cars. You cannot see any discernible reason as to why you and hundreds, perhaps thousands of other drivers are just sitting there. You might have hope for a few brief seconds when you slowly inch along, and then boom, you are sitting stationary once again! 

Rinse and repeat several times, and pretty soon minutes start ticking away–very slowly! And so you start thinking: How long will this last? What will you be late for? What the #$*& is wrong here? And soon of course, the thoroughly modern question comes to mind: Where is my phone? Ah, if I can't go anywhere, or do anything, I might as well check the news, my Twitter, my email, or, what the heck, let's just play Candy Crush

And then, it happens! You feel it, and you hear it at the same time. Your stomach begins to rumble, saying: "Hey, remember me?" Now your brain begins a new quest, as the hunger kicks in. And all around you, in Toyotas, and Fords, and Mercedes, and Subarus... in fancy cars, and in cars that have seen their better days, many other drivers are suddenly thinking exactly the same thing. And in 2019, we don't need folks in traffic–stressed out and often armed–getting–as Mars. Inc.'s Snickers ads have helped teach us a new word that we can all understand: hunger + anger = "hangry!" That word has even made the rare leap from the world of advertising to the dictionary, as Merriam-Webster now officially defines "hangry" as: "irritable, or angry because of hunger" (and yes, you can even be left feeling "hangrier" in a situation!)

So, if you're getting "hangry," "hangrier"—or just plain hungry—while driving, until now, this meant that you would actually have to exit the road you are on to satisfy your brain's cravings, and soothe your stomach's rumblings. You would actually have to drive to the restaurant in your car to relieve your hunger. Soon however, this may not be the case anymore! Soon, the restaurant may come to you–in your car!

A new, innovative marketing campaign for Burger King, created by the New York City-based ad agency, We Believers, is currently running in Mexico City. For the publicity, and interest the campaign is generating, Burger King–a company not renowned of late for having a great deal of success in the "fast wood wars" for the hearts and minds of consumers, may have just leapt into one of the great guerilla marketing strategies of recent years!

While for now, this is more of a proof of concept for targeted mobile advertising, and mobile delivery execution, “The Traffic Jam Whopper” might just offer us a glimpse into what the mobile near-future may look like. Indeed, Burger King's concept hits what will likely become a quite competitive landscape over the next decade or so, as innovative companies, and start-ups alike seek to take advantage of two consumer megatrends.

First, there is our ever-escalating need for instant gratification. We have become accustomed to having any food item available to us basically anytime we want it (and let's face it, how many Americans' American dream today is basically the same as Adam Devine's dream of not having to leave his sofa to have Taco Bell tacos delivered to his home!)

The second megatrend of course is the alluring technology of self-driving cars. However long it may take, a decade, two, or three for driving to become passé, and the machines really do take over, this will give us the opportunity to do a whole host of things, while the car is driving itself. Yes, we will be surfing the Web, watching our favorite shows, and much, much more once we no longer have to pay the full attention drivers do today to the task of driving (I know you are saying, "Yeah, right!"). And the trending news of the past week is that yes, the first pornographic video has been shot in a Tesla on autopilot! It is a brave new world!

And of course, one of the many things we will be doing in self-driving cars will be eating. I mean, as any urban, or suburban driver well knows, folks today never eat while they are actually driving their cars today, right? Already, car manufacturers, major food chains, and delivery services are racing to test, and demonstrate how autonomous vehicles can be used to deliver food to you in your home or office. So how long will it be till you have food delivered to you to eat in your car?

This is what “The Traffic Jam Whopper” is all about. The video below does a great job of showing how Burger King is using cool advertising with mobile technology and geolocation–along with a logistics system built both on the latest technology, and some very good–and brave–motorcycle delivery riders–to bring hot hamburgers (and more) to drivers stuck in what has been judged as the world's worst city for traffic–Mexico City. 

The results to date have been outstanding for the burger chain, both on the ground, and in the cloud. As reported in a recent article on the campaign in Adweek (Burger King Wants to Deliver Whoppers Right to Your Car During Nightmarish Traffic Jams), in the first week alone, the fast food chain saw its delivery orders jump by 63 percent! However, even more importantly, all the publicity–and the public interest–in the Whopper delivery campaign, enabled Burger King to vault over McDonald's and Starbucks to become the most downloaded fast food in the Mexican market. In fact, in the week since the campaign launched, Burger King saw its app downloads grow at a rate 44 times higher than what they were in the week prior! 

That is a powerful result–and it bodes well for the burger chain's growth prospect in the Mexico City market–and beyond. This is because as all marketers know, if they can just get consumers to install–and keep–their brand's app on a prospective customer's smartphone, then you have a chance to build a thoroughly modern–and personal–marketing relationship with that consumer. The smartphone is the key marketing real estate today, and if you are on the customer's mobile device, then it is up to you to find creative ways to engage, entice, and then retain that consumer, once you have your foot in the virtual door, so to speak. 

Now as a strategic management consultant and professor, I have to really, really take my hat off to the creative team at We Believers, and to the marketing folks at Burger King for what is really one of the more interesting–and important–consumer-level innovations of perhaps the past few years. It will be exciting to watch what happens as the campaign expands to other huge, traffic-challenged cities in the world, with the next being Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, and Shanghai.

Burger King and We Believers are indeed operating in a whole new digital frontier, and this campaign shows us the power of what indeed might soon be coming into to our lives as consumers. That being said, I don't see having food delivered to your car–in traffic–as becoming a de facto industry standard now, or really at any point in the near future. Do I expect you to be able to order a Frappuccino from Starbucks, and have it delivered to you while you sit in traffic in Philly? Do I see you will be able to have a Little Caesar's pizza brought right to your car while stuck in a traffic jam in Little Rock? The answer is no, but then again, no one likely saw that the car would basically become an extension of your smartphone, and all the possibilities it holds when Steve Jobs held-up the first iPhone way, way back in 2007!

However, I do think that what Burger King is doing is tremendously exciting! And their Whopper delivery project should make you think hard about your own company, your own marketing, your own operations, and yes, your own technology. Their success with this campaign should make you ask how you might build upon their example, and make your own organization, whether you are in the food business, the app business, or really, in any market anywhere in the wide, wide world, better–and better positioned–for the fast-approaching future!

To me, it is an exciting thing to see the newest of the new technology mixed with the trendiest of consumer trends, and see what can be done! While I am not in favor of people shooting pornos in their self-driving cars (surely now, legislatures and city councils across America will be racing to write laws prohibiting what was unimaginable just a few years–or even a few months–ago!), I believe that the advent of autonomous vehicles will bring about unbelievable, and truly unimagined changes across the economy.

So whether your business involves food, cars, or none of the above, I think that the Burger King example should inspire you to think–and to think different–about just what might be possible for you, and for your organization! How can you better serve existing, and potential customers in new and exciting ways? The future portends great opportunities. The question is simple: How are you preparing to take advantage of them for your career, and for your organization? Your own future might very well depend on how you answer that question!

About David Wyld

David Wyld ([email protected]) is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness. He is the founder and publisher of both The IDEA Publishing (The Best in News, Information and Content Marketing), and Modern Business Press (The Best in Academic Journals).

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